For some people, coffee boosts their bowel movements in addition to energy.
Despite the drink’s popularity, there isn’t much research into why coffee makes so many people run to the bathroom within minutes.
“In some cases, such as coffee and feces, there may not be medical claims that warrant serious investigation,” Dr. Kyle Staller, director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Laboratory, said in an email from Massachusetts General Hospital.
“It could also be an obvious example, meaning that when coffee is part of many people’s daily lives, it doesn’t take multiple studies to know that coffee causes bowel movements. »
There may be something special about coffee, and studies that do exist prove that “the patients are right,” said Stoller, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Several small studies have found that drinking coffee promotes bowel movements better than hot water—suggesting that “water is an integral part of normal digestion, and large amounts are released and reabsorbed by the digestive tract every day,” he says.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that getting enough water isn’t important to your overall health. “About 60 percent of your body is made up of water,” Jerlyn Jones, a registered dietitian dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said in an email.
According to other studies, it didn’t seem to matter whether coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated in all of the studies — suggesting that non-caffeinated compounds in coffee may cause sudden bowel movements in some cases.
The identities of these compounds and how they interact with the digestive tract remain largely unknown, but this is what the researchers have discovered so far.
Colon experiment three types of contractions Together they are mixed, kneaded and eventually excreted. The occurrence, timing, and frequency of these contractions are influenced by muscle, nerve, and chemical factors.
Based on the limited available research, coffee may stimulate this motor activity in the colon within minutes, Staller said.Twelve healthy people tried the activity A 1998 study When they agreed to insert a sensor probe into their colon. During the next 10 hours, participants were randomly given hot coffee, decaffeinated coffee, water, or a meal. Both types of coffee and a meal caused more colonic contractions and stress than water. Caffeinated coffee was 60% higher than water in stimulating colonic motor activity and 23% higher than decaffeinated coffee.
Several attendees from another study Said that drinking coffee made them want to poop and then took a similar test. Their colonic activity increased within four minutes of drinking unsweetened black coffee, an effect that lasted for at least 30 minutes.
These findings may mean that coffee does not directly contact the colonic lining, but affects it through a “gastric colic mechanism,” meaning that coffee’s contact with “the gastric lining triggers a nervous system or hormonal response that causes colonic contractions.” He said. “Colon contractions move stool from the colon to the rectum, and voila – you want to have a bowel movement. »
Melanin — a compound formed when coffee is roasted — contains dietary fiber, which aids digestion and prevents constipation, Jones says.
Coffee also appears to stimulate the release of gastrin, which helps produce gastric acid (stomach acid), Staller said. Stomach acid helps digest food and stimulates colonic activity.researchers found 1986 Consumption of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee can rapidly and significantly affect gastrin levels.
After an overnight fast, the men 2009 study Receive a meal and black coffee or just a meal.Drinking coffee can greatly speed up time spent Allow food to leave the stomach and enter the small intestine after a meal.
“Certain compounds in coffee may also interact with opioid receptors in the gastrointestinal tract,” which can affect gut function, Staller added.
If you’re lactose intolerant but still like coffee-infused cream, cream may be the culprit behind your sudden urge to poop.
“One way to find out what’s driving you to go to the bathroom is to drink coffee without cream or milk and track your symptoms for a few days,” Jones said.
Should you drink coffee every morning to stay regular, despite studies showing some benefits for your digestion? If you’re constipated, it’s not unreasonable to drink coffee to get work done, Staller says.
“But don’t rely on it for bowel movements,” Jones said. “If you have problems going to the bathroom frequently, talk to your doctor. »
Jones recommends slowly increasing your dietary fiber intake “with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.” “The average American adult consumes only 12-14 grams of fiber per day, and the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults consume 25-30 grams of fiber per day. »
People prone to loose or urgent bowel movements “may consider coffee as a possible trigger for these unpleasant events,” Staller said.