When feeling ill, a cup of coffee can be especially appealing. The increased alertness that caffeinated coffee provides, however, has tradeoffs. Here’s a look at several effects coffee can have on the body.
Researchers have confirmed what coffee drinkers have known for centuries. Coffee can make you feel better, even if you’re a little under the weather.
Psychologists at the University of Bristol studied whether giving people who contracted the common cold coffee reduced the “malaise” that’s associated with the common cold. Malaise, in the paper’s abstract, is defined as the “reduced alertness, slower psychomotor performance” that accompanies the common cold and many other illnesses. In laypeople’s terms, it’s feeling groggy.
Notably, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee reduced malaise. The study found that “caffeine increased the alertness and performance” of participants who had a cold, which may not be surprising. “Decaffeinated coffee also led to an improvement,” though. Evidently, it’s not just the caffeine in coffee makes people feel better (although the abstract didn’t speculate on what other compounds in decaffeinated coffee might provide improvement).
Even though coffee may help you feel better when you’re a little sick, it isn’t necessarily good for your body’s health. Coffee has several potential negative effects on the body.
First, coffee is slightly acidic. It’s possible that the acids in coffee could irritate an already inflamed throat. If this is a problem, you may be able to reduce how much coffee irritates your throat when you’re sick by using a different brew method. Cold-brewed coffee doesn’t have the same acidic makeup as hot-brewed coffee, for instance.
Second, a study conducted by researchers at the Tel Aviv Medical Center and Hebrew University’s School of Public Health and Community Medicine found that coffee could impact the immune system. The study found that “coffee intake modifies various measures of the immune function.” Precisely how coffee impacts the immune isn’t clear, though. The study was only exploratory and stated that additional studies are needed before any clinical recommendations can be made.
Third, and most importantly coffee is a diuretic. It increases urination in many people, which can lead to dehydration. When you’re sick, it’s generally advisable to stay well-hydrated. Even if coffee itself isn’t bad, it’s probably not as good a choice as water.
If you’re feeling bad enough to question whether you should be drinking coffee, you may want to see a doctor. The best way to find out whether you can drink coffee with your illness and medical concerns is to ask a physician during an appointment. We’re just coffee aficionados and don’t provide medical advice.
Have Coffee for When You Feel Better
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