A cup of coffee first thing in the morning is a necessity to beat the sluggishness of a late night’s sleep. It is a godsend for many of us and especially to those who are overworked! Many also enjoy the coffee’s nutty aroma (which smells like freshly ground heaven) and the caramel taste. If you are one of them, chances are you are unaware of what a coffee allergy is.
Here, we’ll see why brewing your morning’s coffee may cause an allergy.
Is it coffee allergy or intolerance?
When you drink coffee, you feel more alert and livelier. This is because of the caffeine content in coffee—which stimulates your brain and boosts your energy. However, if you experience symptoms like anxiety, nervousness, and an upset stomach, you could have an intolerance to caffeine – especially if you have other food intolerances.
A caffeine intolerance can make your symptoms of GERD more severe. Since it relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter, your stomach acid moves up. As a result, you experience abdominal pain within a few minutes of drinking coffee. Even one cup of coffee is enough to aggravate your digestive issues!
Besides, caffeine sensitivity is often short-lived. Once you stop consuming coffee, it usually subsides right away. But if you are allergic, you may experience a bad reaction to coffee like –
- Red blotches of skin and rashes
- Upset stomach and abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing and swallowing
- Vomiting, dizziness, and nausea
- Itchiness and a weak pulse
These allergy symptoms occur because of your hyperactive immune system. When coffee seems like an intruder, your immune system reacts by releasing histamine. As a result, your body shows an inflammatory reaction to it, which is medically reviewed.
For a more severe symptom like anaphylaxis, seek immediate care from health professionals. It can be potentially life-threatening if you don’t treat it immediately.
Caffeine allergy vs. coffee allergy
Though allergic reactions to coffee are rare, there are various other reasons your body may show an aversion to coffee.
Most importantly, you need to know whether you are allergic to caffeine or coffee. People who are sensitive to caffeine often experience symptoms similar to a coffee allergy. If you are unsure, find out the allergen by doing a skin prick test or blood test.
Studies show fewer cases of allergic reactions to coffee compared to caffeine allergies. One way to confirm your caffeine intolerance is by having other foods – containing caffeine in them (like chocolates). You can even go on an elimination diet to determine the cause of your allergy.
Other causes of allergy
While energy drinks, soda, and even some medications for migraine have caffeine content, it is wise to avoid these, as they can trigger your allergy symptoms.
You can even develop a reaction because of the mold on coffee beans. This produces toxins—mycotoxins, which your body recognizes as a threat. Studies show that even the dust from green coffee beans can elicit allergic reactions. Also, chemicals and pesticides used during the production of coffee can contribute to allergies.
But what if your high coffee intake makes you sensitive to caffeine? Let’s find out.
How much coffee is too much?
If you are a coffee lover, you will chug at least two cups of coffee a day. Even if you are not a coffee person, your busy schedule makes you reach for a cup of coffee again and again. So, how much coffee can one drink in a single day? Although it varies from person to person, the FDA recommends 400 milligrams of coffee per day—about four or five cups. Too much caffeine consumption can lead to caffeine toxicity.
Some side effects that occur when you consume too much coffee include:
- Anxiety, headache, and chest pain
- Heart palpitations and breathing difficulties
- Excess sweating and muscle pain
- Shakiness and restlessness
If you have any other health conditions, it can make you more sensitive to caffeine. Also, if you are pregnant or lactating, seek guidance from your doctor on your caffeine intake levels.
The caffeine content in different beverages also vary. Even ground and roasted coffee beans contain varying amounts of caffeine. So, it’s necessary to check the levels of caffeine in drinks.
Some best alternatives to your morning cup of coffee
It’s no wonder that coffee makes up a huge portion of your routine. From espressos to American lattes, you gain the energy to keep moving from these drinks! You may dread having to skip coffee. Yet, there are some healthy alternatives to coffee that can provide a similar kick.
- Herbal teas are a wonderful substitute for coffee. They can warm you and are available in many flavours.
- Chicory or roasted grains can provide a similar delicious roasted flavour to a cup of coffee.
- Rooibos tea (also known as red tea) is a caffeine-free beverage. You can add honey and lemon for extra flavor!
- Golden milk includes spices like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper. They have anti-inflammatory effects and is caffeine-free.
- Lemon water is also a healthy alternative to your morning ritual.
- You can include decaf coffee in your routine instead of the usual coffee. Although they are not completely caffeine-free, it’s still a healthy choice. However, if you are highly sensitive to caffeine, you may show an allergic reaction to decaf coffee too.
How do you cut back on coffee and prevent coffee allergies?
Luckily, many only experience a caffeine intolerance rather than an actual coffee allergy. If you are determined to cut back on caffeine, you have to stop drinking coffee gradually. Caffeine withdrawal can cause withdrawal symptoms. However, these withdrawal symptoms are not as severe as alcohol withdrawal. But, it’s necessary to reduce your coffee consumption slowly.
Most packaged foods and dietary supplements contain caffeine. Make sure to check the labels for caffeine levels. And always prefer caffeine-free beverages. If you experience any allergic reaction to coffee, seek help from a health practitioner.
Well, it’s impossible to avoid coffee if you are a coffeeholic! But to avoid any unpleasant allergy symptoms and enhance your well-being, choose a decaffeinated coffee or other beverages. Because sometimes all you need is a warm drink!