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    Why Does Coffee Make You Poop? Explaining a Bathroom Mystery

    Why Does Coffee Make You Poop? Explaining a Bathroom Mystery

    by Alex Brecher January 20, 2023

    Do you ever notice that coffee makes you run to the bathroom? Maybe you even depend on coffee to help things along. Well, there’s an explanation for this bathroom mystery. Hint: the answer is not caffeine. Here’s why coffee can make you poop.

    Does Coffee Make Everyone Poop?

    Actually, it does not seem to make everyone have the urge to go to the bathroom. It seems that somewhere between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 people need to poop after drinking coffee. This “laxative” effect of coffee is different from the well-known “diuretic” effect of coffee that is due to caffeine. In fact, it seems as though the “pooping” effect of coffee is more the result of other compounds in coffee than of caffeine.

    Is It Good or Bad If Coffee Makes You Poop?

    It depends. The laxative effect of coffee can be a good thing if you need it for a little bit of regularity or to move things along in the digestive system. It can be a good thing, too, if you can use it to help you time your trips to the bathroom. For example, competitive athletes might use coffee to help them “unload” just before the competition starts so they don’t need to worry about it during the event.

    On the other hand, it may not be healthy to depend on coffee for your daily trip to the bathroom for number two. The laxative effect can also be unhealthy if you have a gastrointestinal condition, such as colitis or Crohn’s disease, and coffee makes your symptoms worse. 

    How Coffee Affects Your Hormones and Digestive System

    Now, how exactly might coffee affect your body as it relates to pooping? Coffee affects the stomach and small intestine and quickly stimulates the production of hormones called gastrin and cholecystokinin (CCK). These hormones increase colon motility and trigger your body to move the bowels.

    Some Reasons Why Coffee Can Make You Poop

    There are many factors surrounding coffee that can contribute to the possibility of it making you poop. Here are some of them.

  • Acidity: Coffee is an acidic beverage. If you are sensitive to acid, such as if you have an ulcer or IBS and you notice that symptoms are worse when you drink coffee, it is possible that acid helps to trigger the urge to go. Alex’s Low-Acid Organic Coffee is a low-acid alternative that tastes great.
  • Milk or Cream: If you use real milk or cream in your coffee, those products could potentially cause a pooping effect because they are dairy products. Dairy products have a type of carbohydrate called lactose. If you are lactose-intolerant, which many adults are, your body is unable to properly break down or digest lactose. Instead, you may get symptoms such as bloating, stomach pain, and, yes, diarrhea.
  • Warm Temperature: Hot coffee can be so nice on a cold morning, but that could be wreaking havoc on your toileting system. 
  • Sweeteners: Low-calorie sugar substitutes can be good for your waistline, but they can upset your stomach. Certain sugar alcohols, for example, are especially well-known for their potential to give you diarrhea if you have too much. Check ingredients of coffee additives such as sugar-free syrups, too.

  • Managing the “Urge-to-Go” When You Drink Coffee

    If you are one of those people who notice the need to poop after drinking coffee, there are ways to manage it so it does not interfere with your life. A quick fix is to always make sure you know where the nearest bathroom is when you drink coffee, but there are a few other tips for keeping the urge to go from getting in the way.

    • Avoid too much coffee before exercising, especially strenuously.
    • Choose a low-acid coffee, such as Alex’s Low-Acid Organic Coffee. This can be especially helpful for people on a low-acid diet, such as may be the case if you have frequent acid reflux or heartburn, or if you have an ulcer or IBD or IBS.
    • Drink your coffee slowly to slow the release and production of CCK and gastrin and to make their effects less dramatic or severe.
    • Try switching to almond milk or another non-dairy milk, or using a non-dairy creamer, if you think you may be lactose-intolerant.
    • Check your sweeteners. If you are not using real sugar, there are a variety of low-calorie options to try. Even if some of them bother your stomach, some may not.
    • Consider iced coffee or cold brew so your coffee is not as warm.

    Other Ways to Support Digestive Health

    Are you pooping too much? Not enough? Are you irregular? Well, it may be related to caffeine, but it may not. First, talk to your doctor if you ever have concerns about your health. There’s a chance there could be a medical issue.

    If you want to be regular in your bathroom habits, here are a few tips.

    • Drink plenty of fluids. Coffee counts, even if it is caffeinated, but you might want to limit caffeine as the day wears on. Alex’s Low-Acid Organic Coffee comes in Regular, Half Caff, and Decaf versions so you can always choose the one that is most appropriate for you.
    • Exercise regularly. Walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, and aerobics are just a few examples of what you can do to be active.
    • Eat plenty of high-fiber foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts have fiber. Be sure to increase your fiber consumption only gradually, and to drink plenty of water when you do so.
    • Give yourself time. Letting yourself take your time on the toilet can help your digestive system function better.

    Coffee can make many people feel like they need the bathroom. If you are one of them, there is probably nothing to worry about, though you should always ask a doctor if you have concerns. Instead, the urge is likely due to factors surrounding your coffee-drinking experience, such as the warm temperature of the coffee or any milk that you add to your drink. Alex’s Low-Acid Organic Coffee can be a great way to keep coffee from making you poop.

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