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The winter season is approaching and with it come to all sort of health ailments: colds, the flu, fevers, nasal congestion… which might put a halt to our activities and affect our performance. When this happens, the last thing that we want is to get sicker and get held back even more; so we start to worry about all sorts of stuff: can I drink this? Can I eat that? What could make me sicker?
Can I drink coffee when I am sick?
A lot of people are asking themselves these questions about coffee, but there’s no need to worry. It is OK to drink coffee when sick, and it won’t hinder your performance or your recovery. A cup or two of coffee per day while you are sick can help to encourage your immune system while it’s battling illness.
A study done by psychologists at the University of Bristol also found that the caffeine in coffee reduces the general sluggish associated with colds. Coffee is a stimulant, which means it will make your heart pump faster and raise your blood pressure. It is also a diuretic, which means you might be forced to pee out the excess liquids that your body can’t deal with.
Benefits of Coffee when sick
Coffee also has tons of health benefits: the caffeine will improve performance time, clear up brain fog and even might increase performance function; it contains many essential nutrients and vitamins like manganese, potassium, niacin, magnesium, riboflavin… and it even has a lot of antioxidants. Research suggests the antioxidant activity from coffee, specifically from ferulic and caffeic acids, has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral effects, which can all be helpful to the body in healing from an illness.
So, coffee is not only OK to drink when you are sick, but it might also be helpful in the case of particular illnesses like migraine or depression and even help you recover faster or increase your performance in cases of other small ailments. So, is it OK to drink coffee when I have a cold or the flu? It absolutely is, as long as you keep hydrated.
In fact, due to its antioxidants which help the immune system fight infection, coffee might actually help you recover faster, some studies say. Not only that, but the caffeine can help lift the brain fog and grogginess usually associated with common colds or the flu, so it might actually be beneficial to drink coffee when sick!
Sleep is crucial
On the other hand, be careful about that caffeine and don’t drink any coffee from 6 to 8 hours before sleeping, because it might interfere with a restful sleep which is crucial when recovering from an illness. Research shows that your immune system is at its best when you’re getting enough sleep, and coffee can potentially mess with your shut-eye.
What about cough, is coffee good for it?
The consensus differs. There’s an old wives’ remedy saying that drinking coffee with honey on a sore throat is great to help soothe it, and some doctors say the caffeine might be great to help open the airways and breathe better. On the other hand, other doctors think that due to coffee diuretic properties, it might actually dehydrate the throat, making it feel even dryer and raspier. So, the consensus is not clear here, drink coffee at your own discretion!
What about fevers, can coffee health with it?
Again, the consensus is not clear. Some therapists say that due to its diuretic and stimulating properties, coffee might make you sweat more which might help with lowering a fever, and it will ease up the symptoms of fatigue and the brain fog that usually come with a fever; and on the other hand some studies point at coffee raising your body heat and your basal metabolism up, which would actually worsen the fever and make you feel worse; and the caffeine might interfere with a restful sleep which your body will need when you are running a fever. So, again, drink coffee at your own discretion because the consensus is not clear.
So, while it is OK to have coffee when sick, and in some instances, it is actually helpful and conducive to recovery, in some others, it might be detrimental so you should be wary of it.
However, when not sick, coffee has lots of health benefits like preventing type 2 diabetes, preventing certain types of cancer, preventing stroke, helping boost your performance and memory retention, helping with Alzheimers and Parkinsons, providing you with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants… so, when you are not sick, feel free to have one or two cups of coffee every day !
(while still exercising caution: the effects of caffeine still apply when not sick, it increases blood pressure and heart rate, it interferes with restful sleep, it make you have a shorter fuse and react more aggressively, and caffeine overdose is definitely a problem that can happen and it is terribly scary. Be careful with your caffeine consumption !)