The stereotypical opinion says: harmful! What does science say?

Is it bad to drink coffee on an empty stomach?

For many people, enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning is a must-have tradition and a way to start the day. But the idea that coffee on an empty stomach can harm the intestines has gained as much popularity as the mistrust of this information. Let's find out if this is true.

Our stomach is stronger than it seems

According to Kim Barrett , a professor of physiology and membrane biology at the University of California, our stomach can withstand all sorts of irritants, including coffee: "The stomach has many ways to protect itself." For example, it secretes a thick layer of mucus that creates a powerful shield between the stomach lining and what you eat. 

This shield also protects the stomach from its own natural acidic environment, which is needed to break down food. You'll have to take a very harsh substance "for the stomach's defenses to be compromised because it's in a very hostile and destructive environment all the time," says Dr. Barrett.

What actually makes our stomach vulnerable?

“It is well known that irritants such as alcohol , cigarette smoke and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen alter our stomach’s natural defenses and damage its lining,” said Dr. Byron Cryer, director of internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

While some irritants can make the stomach more vulnerable, numerous large studies have shown that this is not the case with coffee. For example, a 2013 study of more than 8,000 people living in Japan found no significant association between coffee consumption and stomach or intestinal ulcers—even among those who drank three or more cups a day.

What harm does coffee on an empty stomach do?

According to Dr. Barrett, drinking coffee on an empty stomach is unlikely to harm your stomach, but it could theoretically trigger heartburn.

In addition, coffee has an effect on the intestines - it can speed up the work of the colon and cause bowel movements. Coffee also increases heart rate and blood pressure. Therefore, if you drink a drink late at night, it may disturb your sleep. 

So what should I do?

Gastroenterologist Byron Cryer advises paying attention to your symptoms . If you constantly notice a burning sensation in your chest or a sour taste in your mouth after drinking coffee, reduce your coffee intake. Adding a small amount of milk or cream to your coffee, or eating a meal before drinking, may also help.

But if you don't notice any symptoms, you probably don't experience significant reflux after coffee and can continue drinking it in peace.

So can you drink coffee on an empty stomach? 

Research shows that concerns about the harm coffee can cause on an empty stomach, including ulcers and stomach irritation, are outdated.

Experts recommend monitoring your well-being - if you suffer from heartburn after drinking coffee, reduce its consumption. Also, to reduce possible health risks, add a small amount of milk or cream to your drink - or have a snack before drinking coffee.