Drinking coffee as soon as you wake up is pretty important to a lot of people, including me. If you're in the same club as me you're really not human until you've had at least one cup of coffee in the morning. It's such a normal process that we really don't think anything of it. But a few years ago my mother was diagnosed with stomach ulcers.
She started to get onto me about drinking coffee without eating some breakfast in the morning, claiming I'll end up like her with stomach ulcers at 45. Apparently this is what she blamed on her digestive issues.
I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me worry a little bit so I had to do some research on it, and if you're here it's likely you are curious about it too. So by the end of the article, you should have a better understanding of the issues and details therein.
Does coffee cause stomach problems?
A lot of people think that coffee is an acidic drink. Being acidic means below a 7 on the pH scale, which coffee is at around a 5 depending on what kind of roast you have or even the bean used. So if we just stopped right there we would say that coffee is acidic and therefore causes stomach issues if you drink too much without sopping it up with some food.
But that's actually not the case if you look at it a little closer. A 5 on the pH is considered acidic but a lot of drinks that we don't even think twice about drinking on an empty stomach have much lower numbers. Take orange juice, for example, it comes in between 3.3 and 4.2.
The lower acidic levels, in comparison to other drinks, should make you feel a touch better about drinking your morning go-juice without eating. Some people do experience heartburn and other issues from drinking coffee though. If you are one of these people you should monitor it more closely, try to eat something, and see your doctor if it gets worse.
All in all, there is not much research to support the claim that drinking coffee on an empty stomach causes digestive issues.
When shouldn't you drink coffee on an empty stomach?
Just because evidence points that drinking coffee on an empty stomach isn't that bad for the average person doesn't mean it's fine all the time. If you have a digestive disorder like stomach ulcers then you should definitely not be drinking it without eating something.
This is because when we drink a cup of coffee without something else in it your stomach will increase the amount of hydrochloric acid. Your stomach uses this chemical for all sorts of things but it can definitely increase the pain you feel from any digestive issues that you may have.
What does drinking coffee on an empty stomach do?
Okay, so we have basically concluded that unless you have stomach problems then drinking coffee without eating is probably not going to be any worse for you than a lot of other things you drink. But what about other problems that may come up with the practice?
Coffee and your Cortisol levels
Cortisol is a hormone that we all have that has a whole slew of jobs to do. It helps to regulate your metabolism, change blood sugar levels, and even has an impact on how you make memories. To say that Cortisol is important is a bit of an understatement.
Drinking coffee right away in the morning, when Cortisol levels are the highest, can put your system under a lot of stress. This can have a lasting effect on your mental health by increasing the number of mood swings that you have. It can also increase the amount of anxiety that you get as a side effect from caffeine because there is nothing else for your stomach to absorb.
I think we all know that coffee is a diuretic or we are at least familiar with the principle of it. You know you drink your second cup of coffee and like clockwork, you have to use the restroom right?
This process is even more extreme if you have nothing else in your system so your body will be going through. This can lead you to be dehydrated which is really not a good thing to be. So if you're going to be drinking coffee without eating make sure you get plenty of water to stay healthy.
Caffeine will be less effective
This is going to sound strange but drinking coffee right when you wake up is not the most effective way to get yourself a boost from the java.
Science tells us that if you drink it right away in the morning when Cortisone levels are high, it has less of an effect. It gets kind of technical here but to explain it the best I can, Cortisol is trying you wake you already so it and caffeine are competing for the same job,
What this means is that if you wait until around midday to drink your coffee the absorption of caffeine is going to be at its peak then because this is when Cortisone levels will begin to fade away.
Does the type of coffee affect when I should drink it?
The level of acid in different types of coffee does not change it enough to have a significant impact on the way your stomach processes the drink. So the kind of bean you choose probably isn't going to have too much of an impact on the effects that it has on your body.
Two things that do affect how your body will react to coffee is the kind of roast and the freshness of the coffee.
The longer that your coffee is roasted means it will end up with a lower level of acidity compared to a shorter roast. This is because some of the acids begin to break down in the roasting process.
The freshness of the drink is going to have an effect here too. I'm not talking about the bean, but the drink itself. If you leave your coffee sitting for a while more acid is going to build up in your beverage. If we have learned anything in this trip down Coffee Lane it's that the more acid the drink has, the greater effect it is going to have on your body.