Why You Shouldn’t Drink Coffee Before Breakfast

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People love to drink coffee for breakfast, if internet memes and novelty mugs are any indications. But while you may feel like a zombie until you’ve had your morning coffee, you may want to eat a bagel or something first. It’s really not the best idea to drink it on an empty stomach, Reader’s Digest reports.

Coffee has a number of benefits, but it can have negative effects as well, particularly if you drink it before breakfast. First, it can increase your level of stress.

“Drinking coffee on an empty stomach, or early in the morning before you’ve had breakfast, can increase the level of cortisol in your body,” Dr. Nikola Djordjevic told the outlet.

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Cortisol is the hormone responsible for regulating your stress response, immune response, and metabolism. Your body begins producing cortisol when you wake up in the morning, and if you drink coffee while your cortisol levels are peaking, you may subject your body to even more stress.

Second, coffee can irritate your stomach and make your gut more acidic overall, and when you have no food in your stomach, there’s nothing to help absorb the coffee. The overproduction of gastric acid leads to other side effects, like heartburn. It can even affect your mental health by causing mood swings, jitters, shaking, and other withdrawal symptoms (if you cut your caffeine). Some studies have even linked gastric acid to anxiety and depression.

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You don’t have to give up your precious morning coffee, though. All of these effects can be curbed by simply eating breakfast before you take your first sip.