Taking pain medication and regularly consuming coffee on an empty stomach can lead to issues: Just ask Taraji P. Henson, who recently opened up about her long-term struggles with gastritis.
The "Empire" star says she used to constantly take ibuprofen and drink coffee before eating, and it caused her some serious stomach problems.
"I would have these bouts where I couldn't keep anything down, not even water," Henson told Delish about how she ended up in the ER three times. Eventually she learned she was suffering from gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining. While many factors can contribute to the condition, she realized that one of her lifelong bad habits — consuming items such as ibuprofen and coffee on an empty stomach — was mostly to blame.
"Even though it says don't take on an empty stomach, when you're 16 and you have your menstrual cycle and you're in pain, you roll over and pop ibuprofen and you don't think anything of it. It was years of doing that and years of drinking coffee on an empty stomach," she said. "That is a no-no. It was the cumulative effect of all these things."
Fortunately, most cases of gastritis can be controlled and treated, usually with over-the-counter medications and by making dietary modifications and behavior changes. In addition to halting her pain medication and coffee ritual, the 46-year-old first worked on balancing her system because her body was producing too much acid.
"I drink about 32 ounces of bone marrow a day to coat and line my stomach," she revealed. "I ingest a lot of coconut oil and Bragg's [apple cider] vinegar." Gulp.
Her breakfast now consists of a low-sugar cereal like Special K or four boiled eggs with fermented veggies (anything fermented is full of digestion-aiding probiotics). "I love a good pickle," she added. For lunch and dinner she noshes on boiled chicken and sauteed zucchini or spinach. "It's almost like I had to strip my body of everything, and I had to slowly introduce solids back into my body — like a baby," she explained, adding that she can't eat anything fried.
Henson maintains one of the most important components of maintaining her diet — or any for that matter — has to do with food prep. "Preparation helps; it calms my nerves. That way, when I'm out there in the world and there's a McDonald's — I don't want that — I have some bars or protein bites in my purse," she said.
The star has partnered with Kellogg's, which recently released a study finding that most women spend a full hour a day obsessing over their diets — which equates to 15 days per year, she points out. "My mission is to save women from being in the position I was in," she told People. "You don't want to wake up one day and you can't keep water down. Those food choices led me to the emergency room, and I just don't want another woman to have to go through that. That can be prevented in what we choose to eat and what we choose to put in our bodies."
Next time you need to pop some ibuprofen before a meal or contemplate drinking coffee on an empty stomach, consider chasing both with milk. It can help reduce stomach acid and minimize the chance of irritation.
What Do YOU Think?
Did you know taking pain medication or drinking coffee on an empty stomach could have health repercussions? Have you ever suffered from gastritis? How did you treat it?