Why Does Coffee Make You Poop?

Why does coffee make you poop? We've studied the research and finally know the answers!

If your morning routine consists of a hot cup of coffee followed by a trip to the bathroom, you’re not alone. Coffee, like other foods that make you poop, often stimulates the urge to go. Research shows that about 3 in 10 people need to use the bathroom within 20 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee. So why does coffee make you poop? Pour a cuppa and let’s find out.

Why Does Coffee Make You Have to Poop?

Coffee makes you poop because it stimulates contractions in the colon. When the colon is active, it moves poop through the body more quickly. There are a few reasons why this happens.

Caffeine

Coffee is an excellent source of caffeine, and one cup contains about 95 milligrams. Caffeine not only wakes you up in the morning, but it also wakes up your bowels too.

A hit of caffeine activates the intestinal muscles and colon. As the colon contracts, it pushes poop toward the rectum and out of the body.

Research shows that caffeinated coffee makes the colon 60% more active than water alone and 23% more active than decaf coffee. Caffeine may also make it easier to poop by relaxing the anal sphincter. This is the muscle that has to relax in order for poop to exit the body.

Here’s a handy guide to how much caffeine is in coffee.

Gastrin

In addition to waking up the bowels, coffee increases the level of gastrin in the body. Gastrin is a hormone that stimulates the body to move food through the gut. When the level of this hormone rises, food is moved through the colon more quickly, making it easier to poop.

Coffee may also increase the level of cholecystokinin, a hormone that stimulates the colon to contract and move poop out.

Dairy

Cream and sugar? Coffee isn’t the only beverage that makes you poop. The lactose found in milk and cream can add to the feeling of needing to run to the bathroom as well.

It’s estimated that about two-thirds of Americans add milk, cream or sugar to their morning brew. If your body is lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy, you may experience bloating, cramping or diarrhea after enjoying a nice milky latte.

If dairy has been giving you trouble, here are some ideas to make your morning coffee healthier.

Why Does Decaf Make You Poop?

Now that we know caffeine can send you to the bathroom, what about decaf coffee? While it may not be as effective as the caffeinated variety, decaf coffee can also make you poop. Like regular coffee, decaf increases the level of gastrin in your body.

Ultimately, drinking any liquid causes your colon to become more active. It’s also been shown that the bowels are twice as active in the morning as compared to overnight when you’re sleeping. Maybe that’s why the morning is the right time to drink coffee (and poop, of course).

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.