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Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN, celebrity chef and nutritionist, points out that some research has found that people who experience a negative reaction to coffee will have it regardless of whether or not they drink the beverage with food.
Hueber adds that coffee also stimulates cortisol release from the adrenals, which creates a stress response in the body and can exacerbate gut symptoms such as loose stools or even constipation—which explains why many people tend to do their business shortly after drinking a cup or two.
However, Poon explains, “This hormone naturally circulates at higher levels in the morning, so there is a line of thinking that drinking coffee in the morning further increases cortisol, but it really depends on the person.” She adds that prolonged elevated cortisol begins to lead to inflammation and can wreak major havoc on the body, but there is no direct path to chronic inflammation from regular coffee consumption. “In fact, research points to coffee’s anti-inflammatory benefits. What’s more, some studies have found that some people (namely regular coffee drinkers) did not experience a cortisol spike in response to coffee,” Poon says.
Tips on How To Minimize Any Harm
“If you have negative reactions to coffee, such as heartburn, digestive discomfort or nausea, or an increase of feelings of stress and anxiety, I would recommend experimenting with a change in habit,” says Poon.
Here are a few expert-recommended tips, because hey—who wants to give up their coffee?
Add a non-dairy milk
That being said, for some people, a small amount of non-dairy milk can sometimes help ease any issues that arise because of coffee consumption. “If you drink black coffee, you could consider adding a small amount of non-dairy milk. I would go with an unsweetened, non-dairy, preferably homemade milk,” says Poon.
Try adjusting your dosage
You may also consider cutting down on your consumption. “One cup of coffee a day and four cups of coffee a day are going to impact your system much differently,” Poon notes.
Consider switching to tea
If coffee is wreaking havoc on your gut, consider a switch to green tea or matcha, “which still contains caffeine, but may not be as hard on your system,” says Poon. “Plus it is full of potent antioxidants that support health.”
Consider what you are adding to your coffee
Drinking a cup of coffee black isn’t the same as a sugary latte. “Keep in mind that common additions to coffee, such as dairy and sugar might also cause digestive discomfort, so it might be a good idea to bring those habits up for review as well,” suggests Poon.