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Coffee: The Digestive Aid You Didn’t Know You Needed

Coffee: The Digestive Aid You Didn’t Know You Needed

Yes, coffee can help in softening stool for many people.

A cup of coffee is a morning ritual for more than half of the world’s population. Not only is this caffeine-fueled drink an amazing pick-me-up, but it’s also packed with valuable nutrients and antioxidants.

What’s more, for some people it can even jump-start the other end of the body.

Coffee doesn’t have this particular effect on everyone, but for many people, it proves to be a laxative and helps in softening the stool. This is because coffee prevents your colon from hardening your stool, resulting in more frequent bowel movements and softened stool.

Many people wonder why coffee makes them visit the toilet soon after having it.

It comes out there’s a physiological reason why coffee can make some people poop. Coffee’s chemical makeup is observed to affect gastrin, a hormone responsible to stimulate the colon muscles. This leads to the movement of bowel muscles, clarifying why coffee softens the stool and makes some people poop.

There are also other reasons why coffee has this effect. Some people are sensitive to the things they add to their coffee, such as dairy products. Others tend to be more susceptible to the acidity level of their coffee.

Let’s dig in deep for everything you need to know about coffee and its effect on your colon.

Is Coffee A Laxative?

Two ceramic mugs containing black coffee and milk.
Coffee- A natural laxative

Yes, coffee is a laxative and can build an urge to poop.

However, the laxative effects of coffee differ among people. It does this by raising the levels of gastrin hormone that makes the colon more active.

This research on the Effect of regular and decaffeinated coffee on serum gastrin levels reveals that drinking either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee tends to increase the gastrin levels by 2.3 and 1.7 percent as compared to plain water.

Along with stimulating the intestines and colon, coffee has also been observed to increase the level of cholecystokinin which is a digestive hormone.

This hormone not only increases the movement of food through the colon but also leads to gastrocolic reflex. As a result, the colon becomes more active and causes an increase in your daily bowel movement.

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How Long Does Coffee Take to Make You Poop?

Normally, it takes around 10 to 45 minutes for a healthy person to stimulate the colon and visit the toilet.

However, that is more dependent on how fast your body starts to metabolize the caffeine. If you are a fast metabolizer, then the caffeine will take less time to absorb in your bloodstream and deliver its laxative effect.

The acidity of the coffee tends to be a key factor behind this effect. Coffee beans that have a high acidic level may soften your stool faster. The chlorogenic acid in the acidic beverage trigger higher levels of stomach acid faster than less acidic drink.

Also, for the regular coffee drinkers, you may already know how long your cup of joe would take to meet your urgency. So when you want to ensure a routine bowel movement, adhere to specific timing for consuming coffee.

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What Kind of Coffee Makes You Poop?

Roasted coffee beans.
Lighter roast coffee makes you poop faster

Coffee that has a higher acidic content tends to make you poop faster. So if you’re trying to avoid the laxative effect, select a darker roast of beans to prepare your drink.

Darker roasted beans contain less acid as a lot of their organic acids tend to burn away in the longer roasting process having a higher temperature. This lowers the acidic content in the darker roasted beans.

In case you are trying to avoid unusual bowel movements, try picking a darker roast variety. This can also reduce the stomach issues that you may feel with the consumption of coffee.

Apart from that, cold-brew coffee is a wise choice since it has a much lesser acidic content compared to regular coffee as you are not required to heat the beans for preparing the drink. So it’s great for your tummy! Read about cold-brew coffees here.

Do Tea and Energy Drinks Provide The Same Effect?

Both tea and coffee work as natural laxatives but when it comes to energy drinks, they don’t show the same effect.

All of these drinks have caffeine in them but the reason why the energy drinks don’t raise the urgency or frequency is that caffeine isn’t the main contributor to this effect. Also, energy drinks can’t trigger gastrocolic reflux like coffee as they lack acidic components.

Refer to the following table that will help you better understand the contrasting features of the drinks:

ContentCoffeeTeaEnergy Drinks
Caffeine15- 95 mg per cup (on average)15-47 mg per cup (on average)100-250 mg per can (on average)
Calorie0-5 calories1-2 calories5-100 calories
Energy BoostInstant and StrongSlow and RelaxingInstant and Strong
Boosting EffectEnergeticCalmingEnergetic
Laxative EffectHighMinimalAbsent
A quick comparison between different caffeinated beverages

You can see in the table above that caffeine is present in all of the drinks but the rest of the ingredients differ. This difference in nutritional breakdown shows the varying effects of each drink on the body.

Is It Bad To Use Coffee As A Laxative?

Two cups of creamy coffee, one cup of chilled juice, one piece of bread, jam, butter and chocolate spread are presented nicely.
Can your everyday coffee relieve your constipation?

Though coffee can relieve you from constipation and can help in getting over it after a drink or two, it isn’t a wise choice to use the beverage as a laxative.

The degree to which a person’s body responds to the drink varies and hypersensitive people may encounter more severe side effects from the drink.

The most common side effects of coffee come in the form of caffeine overdose or withdrawal. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • GERD
  • Caffeine Allergy

Among these, those who have an existing problem of irritable bowel syndrome get easily affected due to GERD and are more receptive to coffee intake. This can aggravate acid reflux, ulcer, and heartburn in some people.

Also, the diuretic effect of coffee can make you dehydrated. This can give the opposing effect to laxative and can make your stool hard.

Thus, using coffee as a laxative doesn’t really reap better results. The body tends to become addicted to drinking and caffeine addiction, as you might know, brings out unwanted side effects too.

It is always better to opt for a healthy, balanced diet with a good amount of fiber-rich foods to help you stay regular.

You can watch the following video to learn more about what happens if you consume coffee as a laxative.

Can you use coffee as a laxative?

To Sum It All Up

In short, coffee can help in softening the stool.

It helps you in clearing your system by inducing the laxative effect. The effects may or may not be due to the caffeine content of the drink.

The differences in intake quantity, body type, and metabolism are what make the effectiveness of coffee as a laxative or constipation different.

Some people already have a sensitive stomach. For them, coffee and other coffee additives can instantly cause bowel problems and other digestive issues However, many people find it easy to adjust their coffee intake well even after having an upset stomach.

To be on the safe side, it’s always better to ask your doctor to suggest a detailed insight regarding the changes you need to bring to your diet if you have a sensitive digestive system.

Lastly, moderate consumption of coffee seldom causes any problems so you can enjoy this delicious drink without any worry. Also, do make sure to drink lots of water to keep yourself fresh and hydrated.

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