Eating These Two Popular Breakfast Foods Together Has An Unexpected Effect On Your Body

A bowl of oatmeal or other cereals that are good for you can start your morning off right with some carbs to give you energy and fiber to make you feel full. A little protein from yogurt or peanut butter will slow down digestion and satisfy your belly until lunch. However, some people who either don't like milk or can't digest it might choose to put orange juice in their cereal.

Although it might sound a bit gross to those who've never tried it, people like actress Bella Ramsey have been enjoying orange juice over cereal for years. Ramsey even posted a picture of her controversial choice on X (formerly known as Twitter) in 2023, and it grossed out many of her fans. Orange juice maker Tropicana even introduced a cereal designed for orange juice rather than milk.

If orange juice and cereal — even if you have your cereal with milk — is a breakfast staple to you, it could have varying effects on your digestive system. This is because the acid in orange juice affects the enzymes that digest the starch in cereal.

Orange juice may slow the digestion of starchy cereals

It shouldn't be news to you that orange juice is packed with vitamin C. Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, and it can block a key enzyme called alpha-amylase that breaks down starch into easily digestible sugars for your body to use as energy. This could slow down a spike in blood sugar in people who have diabetes. A 2016 article in the Biomedical and Pharmacology Journal found that people with type 1 diabetes have higher levels of salivary alpha-amylase than non-diabetic people. Supplementing with 500 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C could help control blood sugar and high blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a 2023 review in Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

However, you don't want to be loading up on orange juice or ascorbic acid supplements so that your body doesn't digest starches. You need alpha-amylase produced by your salivary glands and pancreas to keep your digestive system working properly. Not enough of this digestive enzyme could cause diarrhea due to the undigested carbs sitting in your intestines, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Orange juice could also help your gut

In a 2019 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers looked at the effect of drinking orange juice every day for two months. Although drinking orange juice didn't change the women's body composition, it made healthful changes to their cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and insulin sensitivity. The orange juice also increased the beneficial bacteria in their gut while reducing harmful bacteria.

While orange juice is good for you, it might be better to eat your cereal first, according to a 2018 study in Cell Metabolism. Orange juice consumed on an empty stomach can speed through your digestive system and overwhelm your small intestine with orange juice's high fructose. Then the fructose isn't properly absorbed by the small intestine and reaches the large intestine and colon. Although the study didn't determine how fructose might affect the gut, the researchers advised having orange juice or anything high in sugar with something in your stomach to slow digestion.