September 28, 2023

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The #1 Most Important Thing To Do Before Drinking Coffee in the Morning, According to an Integrative Medicine Doc

The #1 Most Important Thing To Do Before Drinking Coffee in the Morning, According to an Integrative Medicine Doc

If you’re a coffee lover, there’s a good chance that your morning brew is the first thing you think of when you wake up. The thought of it just might be the only thing strong enough to lure you from your cozy bed.

But if you drink a cup of coffee in the morning before doing anything else, you might want to rethink your morning routine. According to an integrative medicine doctor, there’s something else you’ll want to do first.

Related: This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Drink More Than One Cup of Coffee Every Day

What To Do in the Morning Before Drinking Coffee, According to a Doctor

Let’s get something straight right away: Drinking coffee is good for your health (as long as it isn’t loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners). The beloved drink benefits brain health and is even linked to living longer if you drink it regularly. But according to integrative medicine doctor Dr. Tara Scott, MD, who is the medical director at Forum Health Akron and founder of the medical practice Revitalize, there’s one negative quality of coffee that many people overlook: it’s dehydrating.

Dr. Scott explains that the caffeine in coffee is what makes it dehydrating. This is because it increases the production of urine. For this reason, she says that it can be beneficial to drink a glass of water in the morning before enjoying your cup of coffee. However, she adds that this is not something that has specifically been scientifically studied. And if you drink decaf coffee, good news: Since decaf coffee doesn’t have caffeine, it isn’t dehydrating the way caffeinated coffee is.

Related: Nothing Says Morning Like Endless Coffee Refills, But How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?

It’s especially important to drink water in the morning because you have just spent several hours asleep and therefore haven’t been consuming anything hydrating at all. Not staying hydrated throws the whole body off. Even when fluid loss is just 1 percent of body weight, it will negatively impact brain function and mood. This is even more important to be aware of right now as we are smack dab in the middle of the hottest time of the year.

Another Important Thing To Do Before Drinking Coffee

Besides drinking water, it’s also important to brush your teeth in the morning before drinking your coffee. While many coffee drinkers assume that it’s best to brush their teeth after enjoying their cup to prevent coffee stains, dentists say not to wait. “Brushing your teeth before having coffee helps remove plaque, so it’s harder for stains to stick to your teeth when you drink your coffee,” dentist Dr. Jeffrey Sulitzer, DMD, previously told Parade. Waiting until after you have your coffee to brush your teeth exposes the enamel to acid and stains and increases enamel erosion.

Related: Should You Brush or Floss First? Dentists Reveal the Truth About Your Dental Routine

Is It OK To Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach?

OK, now you know that it’s best to drink some water before enjoying your morning cup of coffee. (And to brush your teeth.) But can you have it without eating breakfast first? For most people, Dr. Scott says that coffee can be consumed on an empty stomach without negatively impacting the body. “Many people drink black coffee on an empty stomach because it does not break their fast if they are doing intermittent fasting or time-restricted feeding,” she explains. If you’re waiting until mid-morning or lunchtime to eat, she says that having your cup of coffee on its own is completely fine.

But not everyone can tolerate coffee on an empty stomach well. Dr. Scott says that people with reflux or heartburn may find their symptoms get even worse if they drink coffee on an empty stomach. Scientific studies do show a connection between coffee consumption and heartburn, so if heartburn is something you experience regularly, it could be worth it to cut back on drinking coffee in general, not just in the mornings.

It bears repeating that having coffee in the morning is a healthy habit and is directly linked to benefiting your health. It just shouldn’t be the very first thing you do in the morning. Drink some water, brush your teeth, and then pour yourself a cup. That way, you’ll enjoy its benefits with no downside.

Next up, find out if drinking coffee is good for weight loss.


  • Dr. Tara Scott, MD, integrative medicine doctor, medical director at Forum Health Akron, and founder of the medical practice Revitalize

  • Higher Coffee Consumption Is Associated With Slower Cognitive Decline and Less Cerebral Aꞵ-Amyloid Accumulation Over 126 Months: Data From the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle Study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

  • Do caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and energy drinks, dehydrate you as well? Mayo Clinic

  • Effects of the Amount and Frequency of Fluid Intake on Cognitive Performance and Mood among Your Adults in Baoding, Hebei, China: A Randomized Controlled Trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

  • Effects of Coffee on the Gastro-Intestinal Tract: A Narrative Review and Literature Update. Nutrients