Is It Bad to Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach? Separating Fact from Fiction

For many individuals, that morning cup of coffee on an empty stomach is a cherished routine. However, urban legends abound, warning us that consuming coffee without any food can lead to a slew of health issues. But what do scientific studies and experts have to say about this common practice?

In this article, we delve into the various theories that claim drinking coffee on an empty stomach causes problems like bloating, digestive issues, acne, hair loss, anxiety, and thyroid dysfunction. We’ll explore the findings from recent studies and expert insights to separate fact from fiction.

Coffee and Your Stomach:

One prevalent myth suggests that drinking coffee on an empty stomach can irritate the stomach lining. However, Kim Barrett, a professor at the University of California and a member of the American Gastroenterological Association, disputes this notion.

She explains that the stomach possesses robust defenses against irritants, including coffee. These defenses include a thick layer of mucus that acts as a protective barrier between the stomach lining and anything ingested.

According to Professor Barrett, it would take an exceptionally aggressive substance to breach the stomach’s defenses, as it routinely contends with a harsh environment. In contrast, substances like alcohol, cigarette smoke, and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen can compromise the stomach’s natural defense mechanisms and harm its lining.

Supporting this perspective, a 2013 study conducted in Japan with over 8,000 participants found no significant association between coffee consumption and the development of stomach or intestinal ulcers, even among those who consumed three to four cups daily. Thus, it appears that coffee, even in its concentrated form, is unlikely to cause objective harm to the stomach.

However, coffee does stimulate acid production in the stomach, which can lead to heartburn in some individuals. This effect can be mitigated if coffee is consumed alongside a meal.

Coffee and the Intestines:

When it comes to the impact of coffee on the intestines, the story is different. Empirically, coffee is known to have a stimulating effect on the colon, leading to increased bowel movements.

Temporary Effects on the Body:

Caffeine, a key component of coffee, can temporarily raise heart rate and blood pressure. These changes are short-lived and generally not a cause for concern.

Benefits vs. Harms:

Byron Cryer, the director of internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, emphasizes that there is a wealth of evidence supporting the benefits of coffee consumption. He advises caution when it comes to theories shared on social media that may not be based on credible scientific research.


In summary, the evidence suggests that for most people, drinking coffee on an empty stomach is not inherently harmful. The stomach’s natural defenses are well-equipped to handle coffee’s acidity. However, some individuals may experience heartburn, which can be mitigated by consuming coffee with food.

Additionally, coffee’s impact on the intestines can vary from person to person. Ultimately, the key to a healthy coffee habit lies in moderation and individual tolerance, and there is more evidence supporting the benefits of coffee than there is for its potential harms.

So, feel free to enjoy your morning brew, but remember that everyone’s body is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Rate this post
Share to Help

Leave a Comment