Does a comforting cup of warm coffee seem to “get things moving” sometimes a little too quickly? Before enjoying a cup of coffee, are you sure to pinpoint the location of the nearest bathroom? Is coffee really to blame for your sudden need to run to the toilet?
It turns out this sensation isn’t uncommon; coffee really does make you poop.
According to a study published in “Gut,” a gastroenterology journal, coffee sparks a response in some people mere minutes after drinking it. It was proposed that coffee affects the lining of the stomach and small intestine. In the same study, scientists discovered that coffee encourages the release of a hormone call gastrin, that increases colon activity. When registered dietitian Jacqueline Aizen was asked about coffee’s laxative effect, she explained that caffeine affects the central nervous system, which is responsible for the digestive tract. When you stimulate your central nervous system, digestion is affected. Caffeine also stimulates the colon by causing contractions that move stool, giving you the feeling that you suddenly need to use the restroom.
Before you swear off coffee unless you have a private bathroom close by, take note that not everyone has the same reaction to a warm cup of joe. People metabolize caffeine differently.
When you also take into account that many people experience a bowel movement first thing in the morning, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that coffee and bathroom breaks tend to go hand-in-hand. While you may not have the same reaction to coffee as your spouse or best friend, you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find someone who shares your same coffee-to-bathroom habit.
It should be said that although coffee often has a laxative effect, it shouldn’t be consumed specifically for this purpose. Excessive caffeine intake can rid your body of necessary nutrients and add unwanted stress to your nervous system. While you may rid your body of waste, you’re likely to experience negative side effects. In addition to jitters, drinking too much coffee can dehydrate you, making it harder to use the restroom.
If normal bowel movements and an enjoyable cup of coffee are what you’re looking for, stick to just one cup of coffee and sip it slowly. If you find yourself in the bathroom shortly after, don’t panic. It’s completely normal, and chances are, your coworkers, family, and friends who enjoy coffee as much as you do, experience the same natural effects.