Why Does Coffee Make You Poop?

Why Does Coffee Make You Poop?

Are you one of the millions of people who drink coffee? If you are, you probably know that coffee puts a little pep in your step and sets your bowels in motion. According to several surveys, a cup of coffee makes three in 10 people hustle to the restroom. In fact, one study found that 29% of participants needed to use the bathroom within 20 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee. Is there a reason why this happens? This article aims to provide some answers. 

Coffee And Your Colon

Coffee is a great source of caffeine, with a single cup providing about 95 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. Caffeine helps to boost energy levels, but it also increases your urge to eliminate. According to several studies, caffeine can activate contractions in the colon and intestinal muscles. These contractions push the contents in your intestines and colon towards the rectum, the final section of the digestive tract. One study found that caffeine makes the colon 60% more active than water and 23% more active than decaf coffee. That isn’t a reason to only consume coffee, though, because water is still necessary for hydration and optimal health. 

Coffee has a relationship with the rest of your body and gut. The lining of the stomach produces gastrin, a peptide hormone that enhances gastric motility and gastric mucosal growth. Why is this significant? Well, coffee sends a signal to the stomach to release more of this hormone, which induces peristalsis, the digestive muscle contractions we mentioned in the previous paragraph. Researchers also suggest that the other substances in coffee affect digestion and bowel movements in other ways. More studies are necessary to better understand this relationship. 

Why Does Coffee Cause Bowel Movements?

Muscles, hormones, and nerves all work together to complete various tasks throughout the body. In the case of the digestive system, they work to move solids and liquids through the gastrointestinal tract for proper elimination. This process is called the gastrocolic reflex, which helps the body get rid of what it doesn’t need. It occurs whether you drink or eat coffee, but several things affect this naturally occurring reflex. The gastrocolic reflex is more active in the morning, so experts believe that a cup of coffee in the morning amplifies the effect. 

Caffeine Isn’t The Culprit

Caffeine does rev up the body in several ways, which is why many people attributed it to one’s urge to poop. Some studies suggest that there’s more going on than caffeine in your system. One study found that caffeine actually relaxes the anal sphincter, which is the portion of the body that keeps stool in or lets it out. When it’s relaxed, it’s easier to poop, or you feel the need to go is a bit more urgent. However, decaf coffee also encourages muscle contractions in the large intestine. But, one study found that these muscles contracted more after drinking caffeinated coffee than decaffeinated coffee.

Chlorogenic acids and N-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytrptamides are two compounds of interest in decaf coffee. Several studies found that they stimulate the production of stomach acid, which helps to churn food and move it through the gut. The act of drinking any beverage makes the colon more active. Additionally, decaf coffee also encourages the gastrocolic reflex, which we covered previously. It’s the same reflex that activates the colon after eating a meal. Coffee isn’t a meal, but it has the same effect on your bowels, so there is definitely a relationship between it and your bowels. 

The Takeaway

There are several factors that researchers attribute to coffee’s ability to help you eliminate. Some of the compounds in coffee are interesting and affect the body in specific ways. Right now, it seems that caffeine does have a powerful influence on your bowels, especially when consumed in the morning. A cup of coffee may help you eliminate in the morning if you struggle on a regular basis.



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