7 side effects of drinking coffee on an empty stomach

Is drinking a brewing cup of coffee the first thing you do when you wake up? If so, think twice! Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can be harmful to your health in many ways.

For many, a morning without coffee seems incomplete. It gives them a much-needed energy surge, making them feel fresh. However, despite its revitalising effects, including enhanced focus and metabolism, drinking coffee on an empty stomach can pose health risks. Studies reveal that coffee on an empty stomach may trigger indigestion and interfere with the nutrient absorption process, potentially compromising the immune system. The habit can also exacerbate acid reflux and elevate cortisol levels, contributing to stress. If you are someone who is addicted to a morning cup of coffee, read this article to learn how it can be harmful.

7 side effects of drinking coffee on an empty stomach

While it has been established that coffee may help you stay energetic and fresh throughout the day, there are also some coffee side effects when you drink it on an empty stomach. Nutritionist, and Dietitian, Deepti Lokeshappa tells us all about it.

1. Anxiety and jitters

Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase alertness and energy levels. However, consuming it on an empty stomach can amplify its effects, leading to increased anxiety, nervousness, and jitters. This heightened state of arousal can be uncomfortable and may interfere with daily activities, causing restlessness and an inability to focus.

2. Risk of stomach acidity

Coffee is acidic, and when consumed on an empty stomach, it can exacerbate stomach acidity issues. Lokeshappa says, “The combination of caffeine and high acidity levels can irritate the stomach lining, leading to discomfort, heartburn, and even acid reflux.” Over time, frequent exposure to acidic coffee can contribute to the development of more serious gastrointestinal conditions like gastritis or peptic ulcers.

3. Aggravates digestive issues

For individuals already dealing with digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), drinking coffee on an empty stomach can exacerbate symptoms. The stimulatory effects of caffeine can increase bowel motility, potentially triggering diarrhoea or abdominal cramps, further disrupting the delicate balance of the digestive system.

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low stomach acid
Coffee increases the risk of digestive problems! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Interferes with nutrient absorption

Coffee contains compounds known as tannins, which can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, including iron and calcium. “Consuming coffee on an empty stomach may hinder the body’s ability to absorb these essential nutrients, leading to deficiencies over time,” explains Lokeshappa. This is particularly concerning for individuals who rely on a nutrient-rich diet for optimal health.

5. Increases stress response

Caffeine stimulates the release of cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, from the adrenal glands. While cortisol plays a crucial role in the body’s fight-or-flight response, elevated levels can have detrimental effects on health. It can cause weak immune function, weight gain, and mood disorders. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can contribute to an exaggerated stress response, potentially exacerbating stress-related conditions.

6. Fluctuations in blood sugar

Caffeine can affect insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, leading to fluctuations in blood sugar levels. When consumed on an empty stomach, coffee may cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, followed by a subsequent crash. That can leave individuals feeling fatigued, irritable, and craving more sugar or caffeine to alleviate symptoms. Over time, these fluctuations can contribute to insulin resistance and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

7. Dehydration

Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it promotes the production of urine and can lead to increased fluid loss from the body. When consumed on an empty stomach, coffee can exacerbate dehydration, especially if adequate fluid intake is not maintained throughout the day. According to Lokeshappa, “Dehydration can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, further impacting overall health and well-being.”

impact on dehydration on mood
Coffee can lead to headaches. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

As you now know, consuming coffee on an empty stomach can have several detrimental impacts on both physical and mental health, so skip it in the morning. You can consume it after your breakfast. Additionally, make sure that you do not drink more than one or two cups every day. Remember to drink plenty of water and pair your cup of coffee with nutrient-rich foods.