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Coffee & Health

Why Does Coffee Make Me Sick?

We all know how much the cup of coffee comes in handy in the morning as that pick-me-up drink. You are rushing out for a busy day ahead. You have no time for a breakfast package, yet you need your energy up.

So, you sip on coffee and promise yourself to eat something at 10 o’clock, once you hit a few targets at work. Then, oops! The upset stomach, not again. And before you know it, you want to throw up.

But have you ever wondered why this happens and even repeats itself quite so often? Is it in the coffee brew? What could make this bold-flavored antioxidant-rich beverage cause so much tension in your body?

coffee can make people sick

Let’s find out why. In this article, we look at the downside of coffee and why it makes you sickly. We also see remedies you can incorporate to enjoy your coffee brew and make it more tolerable the next time you sip on it.


High Acidity in Coffee

You may already know that coffee is naturally acidic. It contains caffeine and acids that don’t work out well with the gastric acid in the stomach. Coffee has a P.H of 4.5-5.5, which can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, heartburn, and reflux.

Reflux refers to a condition where the stomach contents are pushed up the esophagus. This is caused by the inadequate opening and closing of the sphincter muscle at the stomach opening. The results are heartburn or a burning sensation in the chest. For people with known reflux tendencies, taking coffee can worsen the situation.

Caffeine, on the other hand, is a stimulant that can enhance mental and physical aptness. However, it stimulates the stomach to produce more gastric acid preparing the stomach for food. Hence, it causes symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, bloating, and nausea.

Though these symptoms are often a result of drinking lots of coffee, they are more common in those with sensitive stomachs. If you’re one of those people, go for a dark roast instead of a medium and light roast. The darker the roast, the less acidity it’ll likely have and the easier it’ll be on your stomach. Alternatively, if a no roast works for your stomach, decaf coffee is definitely worth the trial. Decaf, short for decaffeinated coffee, has been shown to reduce the effects of acid reflux. It refers to coffee that has about 97% caffeine removed from it.


Coffee’s Laxative Effects

Coffee is a mild diuretic, meaning it promotes the excretion of water from the body. It’s also a laxative enhancing contractions in the intestines and faster movement of food through the gut. All this activity could result in diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal discomfort.


Artificial Sweeteners and Creamers

Adding an artificial sweetener to your coffee can irritate the gut bacteria causing nausea. Artificial creamers can also pose a health concern as some ingredients, such as thickeners and fructose corn syrup, are potentially dangerous. The remedy is to take your coffee without artificial sweeteners and see if there is a difference in how you feel. For some, this is all you need to do to enjoy your coffee without making you sick.

If you need to add anything to your coffee, go for natural substances which can mix well with the coffee in your stomach and not bring issues.


Taking Coffee with Milk

Milk can also bring abdominal discomfort for those who are lactose-intolerant and cause nausea. If you’re feeling sickly after drinking coffee, try it without milk and see if the symptoms are alleviated. If so, it could mean you are intolerant to the lactose in milk. It’s good to confirm with your doctor if this is the case. You can also try plant-based milk options.


Taking Coffee on an Empty Stomach

Coffee is a rich drink with not only bold flavor but also complex chemical make-up. Anyone taking coffee on an empty stomach for breakfast will suffer an upset stomach in the long run. The acids and caffeine in coffee are likely to wear your stomach lining, which would only get worse in the long run.

It is advisable to eat breakfast before taking a cup of coffee. A slice of bread can do the trick, though proteins, such as yogurt, are best. Banana is also good as it helps bring down the acidity of the coffee. The presence of food helps slow down digestion when the food mixes with the coffee in the stomach hence lessening the effects on your gut.


Cortisol Levels and Coffee

Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone or the body’s built-in alarm. It works with parts of the brain to keep mood, motivation, and fear in check. Now on waking, this stress hormone spikes. It’s the one responsible for waking as it controls your wake-sleep cycle. Drinking coffee at this time can cause your cortisol levels to fall and you end up feeling tired, sluggish, and even sickly.

If in dire need of a hot drink early in the morning, you can reach for a cup of tea and then drink coffee partway through the morning or in the afternoon when the cortisol levels have declined naturally. This will be a good time for coffee to pick you up.


Hydration Levels

As we have mentioned above, coffee is a mild diuretic; it causes you to excrete water in the toilet every so often. Studies show that a small amount of coffee will not leave you dehydrated. However, it’s crucial to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day with water.

The water will help lessen the harsh effects of coffee on your tummy. Hydrating well will help you enjoy the robust energy benefits of your coffee brew as well. It also helps keep your electrolytes up.


Consuming Too Much Coffee

Consuming five (or more) cups of coffee daily will surely produce side effects, not only for your stomach but for your mental health. Too much coffee may leave you battling anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, fatigue, and even difficulties cutting down.

Be sure to not overdrink it in a bid to raise your energy levels. Try other options, such as teas, smoothies, or pick-me-up activities such as going for a walk or exercise to boost your alertness and productivity instead of running for your favorite cup of coffee. If you must take coffee, better take it later in the morning or the afternoon, after having your first meal of the day.

That said, the effects coffee has on one person may be different from another. Of importance is to know what is affecting you and how to work around it. For a few individuals, refraining from coffee is the solution. But for most others, the conditions improve after modifying one thing or the other. If all the remedies do not work, cutting down on coffee is your only option left.


Also read: Why Doesn’t Coffee Work for Me?