Does coffee make you go poop?

If you are anything like me, the first thing that you do every morning is headA good morning starts with coffee
for the kitchen to turn the coffee maker on.

That first cup of coffee helps me to ‘kickstart’ my day and form sentences.

Not long after that first cup, many people report the need to visit the bathroom.

Is that morning coffee the reason you need to take a morning poop?

When you wake up and start moving in the morning, so too does your gastrointestinal tract.

While you have been asleep all night, it has also been inactive.

When you drink that first cup of coffee, it and any food you have eaten for breakfast enters your empty stomach and triggers a process called the gastrocolic reflex. This is a hormonal message sent to the colon that it’s time to contract and evacuate, to make room.

Basically, the movement of your stomach and by-products of digestion increases your colon’s ability to move food through your digestive tract.

Pooping in the morning is usually your body’s digestive process doing what it is supposed to do.

If you already poop in the morning, you will usually continue to do so – coffee or not.

Do you take your coffee with cream or milk?

If you are one of the 10 to 15% of people in the developed world who are thought to be affected by Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or you are dairy intolerant or sensitive, your morning gastrocolic reflex may be more noticeable.

Cream or milk in your mid-morning cup of ‘Joe’ may also explain if you have to poop again mid-morning. If you don’t, then coffee has nothing to do with your pooping habits.

The last study was done nearly 30 years ago

Studying a cup of coffeeSurprisingly, the last study on drinking coffee and popping was done in 1990.

While popping is not a topic that most of us normally discusses, wouldn’t this also be a great opportunity to drink and sample more coffee in the name of science?

Is it time for a new research to be done? I would happily sign up for any study that requires me to drink more coffee!

That small study found that 29% (or close to 1 in 3) people reported that they poop after drinking coffee, or as they refer to it in the study results – ‘desire to defecate’.

This group also reported increased movement in the distal colon (that’s the last part of the colon) for up to 30 minutes after they drank coffee.

It seems that in some people coffee causes more movement in the colon, than others.

So, it is not necessarily in your imagination – your coffee consumption may be making things move through your system more quickly.

Will changing to Decaf stop the pooping? Decaffeinated coffee

No. It is a common myth that it is the caffeine in coffee that stimulates the desire to poop.

It is not the caffeine that causes any laxative effects. Instead, it is the acid in your coffee that can trigger a gut reaction in the stomach that prompts it to unload its contents into the intestines.

That 1990 study reported that those who identified a connection between coffee consumption and pooping were both regular and decaf coffee drinkers.

Over the past few years that has been a rapid growth of energy drinks and supplements on the market. Many of these contain high levels of caffeine and very few people report having to poop after consuming one of these.

Don’t blame the caffeine – pooping is normal

Remember, it’s the bodies way of eliminating waste, or what it has used and no longer needs.

While everybody poops, only some people poop after drinking coffee.

Talk to your doctor

If you:

  • Think you are one of the 3 in 10 whose pooping is impacted by coffee
  • Suspect you may have a dairy intolerance
    Are concerned or embarrassed about an Irritable Bowel condition

Don’t self-diagnose…talk to your doctor and get it medically confirmed.

Otherwise, just keep enjoying your daily coffee, be that caffeinated or decaffeinated.

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