Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous? And How to Prevent It

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For some of us, drinking a cup of coffee is a mandatory thing to do in the morning before work. But for others, it causes heavy nausea, anxiety, and distress to your stomach. Why does coffee make some of us nauseous?

Caffeine stimulates hormone production and your digestive system, including the creation of extra stomach acid. This can cause inner irritation leading to acid reflux-like symptoms such as nausea.

In this article, we’ll go through the most common reasons for feeling sick after drinking coffee and how to stop feeling nausea after coffee.

Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous?

You might have guessed this already, but caffeine is to blame.

Caffeine is a stimulant

Caffeine is a stimulant. In other words, it promotes the activity of the brain and nervous system. It also enhances the circulation of chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline in the body. 

 In small amounts, caffeine can keep you feeling refreshed and focused. Large amounts of caffeine can cause anxiety and sleep disorders. Remember, though, that it’s possible to develop a tolerance to caffeine, so your definition of a large amount may have to change over time.

Caffeine has a laxative and diuretic effect

According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), an excess amount of caffeinated beverages can cause diarrhea. In addition, the caffeine contained in coffee acts increases the production of bile and stimulates defecation.

Many of the sugary sweeteners added to coffee compound this effect. And, if you’re lactose intolerant, milk and coffee creamers will make it even worse. If your body is already having a hard time with the coffee itself, you may want to try switching to a healthier coffee sweetener or drinking it black.

How to Prevent Nausea from Coffee

1. Don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach

Drinking black coffee on an empty stomach in the morning significantly impacts your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. It also can give you a super strong hit of acidity, which increases acid reflux symptoms like heartburn and nausea.

You can save yourself a lot of trouble by drinking your coffee shortly after breakfast instead of first thing in the morning. A milk-based coffee like latte, mocha, or cappuccino can also be a lighter choice than a black coffee, assuming your body can handle the lactose.

2. Drink a lot of water after coffee

As I mentioned before, too much Coffee can increase your acid reflux and causes anxiety. Drinking a lot of Water will reduce that. Water in itself is a cleansing agent.

Water also helps to clear the residue from your mouth, which prevents coffee stains from forming on your teeth. Less nausea plus a whiter smile—it’s a win-win.

3. Brew low-caffeine coffee beans

Decaf coffee gets a bad rap, but it really is the best option for caffeine-intolerant coffee drinkers.

While regular decaf tends to be bland, you can get all of the flavors of your favorite brew with none of the caffeine. The trick is to look for beans that say Swiss Water decaf. This is a special decaffeination process that removes over 98% of the caffeine from the beans without removing the oils and sugars that give coffee its flavor.

I’d suggest starting with Kicking Horse decaf, one of my personal favorites.

4. Try cold brew coffee

Cold brew is a coffee brewing method that brews coffee with cold rather than hot water and usually involves a long steeping process—often upwards of 24 hours.

Cold-brew brands claim that it is a lower-acid option than traditional drip coffee. There is still conflicting research as to whether that is actually true, and it’s looking like the answer may be more nuanced. However, the mellower flavor of cold brew does seem to sit better in many people’s stomachs, so it’s still worth a try.

What’s Next?

There’s no wrong way to brew coffee. Every coffee beans and every person who drinks coffee are different. There are several brewing methods and dozens of coffee drinks out there that you can try! You don’t have to give up coffee to get rid of that nauseous feeling your current brew is giving you.

Nausea isn’t the only side effect some people get from caffeine and coffee. Caffeine lasts a long time in the body and often causes the coffee jitters in particularly caffeine-sensitive people. Switching to decaf or low-acid coffee can help with nearly all of these problems.