The Real Reason You Shouldn't Drink Coffee When You're Sick

If you're a diehard coffee drinker, whether or not you should continue to drink coffee while you're sick will largely depend on the kind of illness you have and how drinking coffee will impact your body.

For instance, if you only have a mild cold, the experts at Healthline suggest that coffee could be just the mild stimulant you need to overcome fatigue and help get you through your day at work or school without any side effects.

However, if you are experiencing conditions that are more severe, such as vomiting, diarrhea, flu, or food poisoning, despite the stimulation and pleasure coffee provides, drinking it in these cases is not advisable. This is because coffee is a diuretic. Drinking fluids that provide hydration such as water, diluted fruit juices and sports drinks are going to be better for your body. If you are suffering from a stomach ulcer, you should also probably avoid coffee, as the acids could cause further irritation. The caffeine in coffee can also potentially interact with certain stimulant medications, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), as well as antibiotics. So check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to drink coffee while taking these drugs.

Best beverages to drink when you're sick

While coffee is likely safe to drink for most people who have minor colds or the flu, one of the key ways to help yourself fully recover is to stay well-hydrated, and so there are going to be better beverages than coffee to help you get on the road to wellness.

Unsurprisingly, water tops the MindBodyGreen list of best drinks to consume while you're sick. This is because water is the best way to help rehydrate mucous membranes, which "are the body's first line of defense against viruses," Roxanna Namavar D.O., founder of the boutique New York City medical practice Pretty Healthy NYC, tells MindBodyGreen. "If they become dehydrated, they can't produce their moist coating, which prevents viruses and bacteria from adhering to tissue," she adds.

Another option to consider is ginger tea for its stomach-soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Herbal teas are also a good choice. In addition to mitigating inflammation and supporting the immune system, herbal teas promote a sense of calm and relaxation, Maggie Michalczyk, R.D. tells MindBodyGreen.

Green tea, honey water, coconut water, lemon water, broth and the Ayurvedic drink "golden milk" are also good options to consider in lieu of coffee.

Experts tell MindBodyGreen that it's ultimately a good idea to avoid coffee when you're feeling unwell, but if you must have caffeine "consider matcha tea as an alternative to coffee," says Jess Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN. "That will still offer some caffeine, but less than coffee." she explains.