Campus Commons Physical Therapy - November 2023



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The Truth About Drinking Coffee Before Breakfast


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Millions of Americans start their morning with a piping hot cup of coffee. There’s nothing like the familiar smell, comforting warmth, and hit of caffeine to get you ready for the day. But could this common habit actually harm our bodies? For some people, consuming caffeine on an empty stomach could cause unpleasant side effects.

Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) might also beware. Scientists have long known that coffee stimulates our colon muscles and can help people have bowel movements. Some consider it a bonus, but IBS patients are already prone to diarrhea. Coffee causes increased cramping for some, and the effect can be more noticeable on an empty stomach.

No definitive data suggests drinking coffee before breakfast will negatively impact you in the long term. Only limited research exists on the matter, and the results are inconclusive. However, some people anecdotally report feeling worse if they drink coffee on an empty stomach, and nutritionists and dietitians believe certain people may be more susceptible to adverse side effects.

Coffee can also affect us emotionally. The beverage gives some people jitters, particularly without food. Research indicates the effect is more pronounced in people with anxiety disorders, possibly because jitters mimic anxiety symptoms. Some studies suggest consuming coffee with food decreases the concentration of caffeine in our bodies and makes the effect less likely. Ultimately, whether you should rethink drinking coffee on an empty stomach is up to you. People suffering from GERD, IBS, or anxiety should consider whether their liquid pick-me-up worsens their symptoms. The

People with digestive problems should be the most cautious about their morning cup of coffee. Coffee stimulates acid production in the stomach, particularly when it’s otherwise empty. That’s not a big deal for most people, but it can be for those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or who are prone to acid reflux or heartburn. Coffee before food may make symptoms worse.

current research suggests that consuming coffee before food is probably fine for most other people, but it’s always wise to listen to your body for cues. If you feel less than your best after your morning coffee, see whether a change in routine improves the situation.


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