Pop-quiz. Which is the world’s most widely used psychoactive stimulant? If you answer is caffeine, you’re spot on!
Caffeine is the world’s most widely used psychoactive drug and by far the most commonly used stimulant. About 80 percent of the adult population in the Western society consumes caffeine in quantities that can have a considerable effect on the brain.1 Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and affects the same parts of the brain as cocaine, but differently. Compared to tea, energy drinks and cola, coffee contains the highest level of caffeine.
It has addictive properties, and withdrawal symptoms such as nausea can occur if the body is deprived of caffeine. Since coffee is a stimulant that rejuvenates you and makes you alert, nausea is the last thing you would associate with coffee. Though nausea can be caused due to various reasons, sometimes coffee is to blame. Here are a few reasons why you experience nausea because of coffee.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), better known as heartburn, occurs when the contents of the stomach back up into the esophagus. The digestive acids and stomach contents can irritate and cause discomfort to the esophagus. This is the burning sensation we experience behind the breastbone. Coffee can trigger GERD symptoms as it stimulates the secretion of gastric acid. Unfortunately, the esophagus has no protective coating as the stomach and caffeine can increase the acidic levels. Hence, people with GERD are told to stay away from both regular and decaffeinated coffee. Besides coffee, they must avoid carbonated beverages and citrus foods too.
2. Too Much…
Excess coffee intake is harmful to the body. Caffeine overdose can also cause nausea and it occurs when someone takes in more than a normal or recommended amount. Thankfully, though our body absorbs caffeine rapidly, it also gets rid of it quickly.2
3. …Too Little
By constantly supplying the body with a certain chemical compound, we create mental and physical dependency. For instance, coffee. Worldwide, many people are so addicted to coffee that they cannot perform normally and efficiently without coffee or products that contain caffeine. When we suddenly stop that supply, we experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms can include nausea.3 Depriving the body of its daily dose of caffeine in the form of coffee causes many unpleasant symptoms as the body reacts to its absence.
4. Enlarges The Stomach
Drinking coffee, especially after eating your meals relaxes the stomach. When the stomach is relaxed, we don’t feel full. In some people, this enlargement of the stomach causes nausea. In relation to GERD, drinking coffee on an empty stomach can also be a bad idea. It is better to drink a glass of water before drinking your morning cuppa, as water dilutes the acids and minimizes its burning effects.
5. Caffeinated Breastmilk
Nursing mothers must avoid consuming more than a couple of cups of coffee. Babies can also suffer from caffeine overdose. The caffeine you consume passes on to the baby through the breast milk. But, when nursing mothers’ intake exceeds the permissible limits, the child may experience some mild symptoms include nausea.4 Having an occasional cup of coffee will not affect the breast milk. The body can quickly get rid of the caffeine and the effects of caffeine last for four to six hours.5
In a process called vasodilation, caffeine causes the dilation of the blood vessels leading to the brain and increases blood flow. This causes a headache or nausea.6 Headaches and nausea may occur due to vasodilation, as it lowers blood pressure.
Caffeine consumption in moderation is regarded as a safe, and possibly even a healthy habit.7 But, make sure you don’t drink too much coffee on an empty stomach and keep the daily intake under the recommended limit.
|↑1||Daly, J. W., J. Holmen, and B. B. Fredholm. “Is caffeine addictive? The most widely used psychoactive substance in the world affects same parts of the brain as cocaine.” Lakartidningen 95, no. 51-52 (1998): 5878-5883.|
|↑2||Caffeine overdose. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2017.|
|↑3, ↑5||Caffeine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2017.|
|↑4||Australian Breastfeeding Association. “Breastfeeding and maternal caffeine consumption.” NSW 2, no. 6244 (2012): 333.|
|↑6, ↑7||Majithia, Neil. “Caffeine: Understanding the world’s most popular psychoactive drug.” The Journal of Young Investigators. The Journal of Young Investigators 1 (2007).|