Why Does Coffee Make You Poop? Swolverine

Are you one of those people who can only poop if you have your morning coffee? Otherwise, if you don’t, you get backed up, plugged up, fussy and uncomfortable? Well, have you ever sat there wondering, why can’t I poop without coffee and why DOES coffee make you poop? You’ve come to the right place because we're going to spill the *coffee* beans all over this question to get down to the bottom of it. Grab your coffee, take a seat, let's dig in.

Gastrocolic Reflex - The Poop Signal

You know that little ‘alarm’ that goes off in your stomach after you’ve drank your coffee? Maybe it goes off in ten minutes, maybe about 45, but either way you know that alarm well - because it makes you have to poop. The reason why you dash off to the bathroom is, in part, due to the gastrocolic reflex, a stretching of the stomach that happens when you eat/drink. The muscles in the colon contract and begin to ‘collect’ contents that are in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

In short, your colon, thanks to the gastrocolic reflex, begins to pull food from your intestines into the lower part of the GI for extraction, in order to prepare the upper part of the GI (stomach) for more food. Pretty crazy, right!?

Studies have found that coffee actually can activate the human colon up to 60% more than water and over 23% more than decaf coffee. [R] Initially, it was thought that the caffeine in coffee is the thing that signals the poop train to leave the station, but as research has continued on for the question ‘why does coffee make you poop’, other biological functions have been more to blame than caffeine itself.

Why Does Coffee Make You Poop? Swolverine

Gastrin And Coffee

Gastrin is hormone that is released when beginning the digestion process. Gastrin signaling stimulates the release (secretion) of gastric acid in the stomach to help with the contraction (motility) of the GI. [R]

Drinking coffee can lead to an increased production of gastrin, which leads to the colon pulling food from the lower GI in order to make room for more food in the upper GI, and this is one of the answers to your question, why does coffee make me poop. In fact, gastrin levels have been shown to increase by over 2.3 times normal activity when drinking regular coffee as compared to drinking water alone. [R]

In short, gastrin is the ‘alarm clock’ that wakes up your GI when you have your AM coffee and haven’t gone numero dos in the last 8-12 hours because you’ve been asleep and winding down the night before. 

Sleep And Poops - Making The Connection

The Gastrocolic reflex is seen to be most active and sensitive in the morning, which makes a pretty good argument as to why coffee, often the first thing that people drink in the AM, sends you to the bathroom. Higher levels of gastrin activity in the human body right upon waking could also be the reason why your AM coffee makes you feel this way and your PM coffee doesn’t. [R

Another link to the gastrocolic reflex is a digestive hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) which can make some serious moves when getting food through the GI and into the colon. [R] When CCK is released, the gastrocolic reflex makes the colon even more active, which may be why you have that urgent rush as compared to other, more subtle signs of needing to go poo.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Chlorogenic Acid

Another reason why you might have to deuce after your morning Joe could be because of chlorogenic acid, which can increase stomach acid levels in the body (specifically gastric acid). When your body increases the amount of acid it has in the stomach, it can also increase the time that it takes to move contents of the stomach from the stomach and into the rest of the GI. 

When chlorogenic acid is released from consuming coffee, so is N-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamides, which also stimulate the production of stomach acid. [R] Going back to the previous point with chlorogenic acid, more stomach acid means faster gastric emptying and a higher need for an active colon.

Why Does Coffee Make You Poop? Swolverine

Does Decaf Coffee Make You Poop

Ah, good question. So if we know chlorogenic acid might be to blame, does decaf coffee make you poop like regular, caffeinated coffee does? Yes, and the reason for that comes down to more of the chemical interactions from the beans and oils in coffee that helps you poop, not the caffeine. [R

Caffeine will set the ‘alarm’ in the body a bit more, because caffeine is a stimulant, but it really comes down to the contents and chemicals in the beans themselves that stimulate the GI tract, rather than the caffeine. [R] So to answer this question, yes, both decaf and regular coffee will make you poop. 

Why Does Coffee Make You Poop - In Conclusion

As you can see, there isn’t a ton of information on why coffee makes you poop, or science behind the thought that it does. That being said, there are a few correlations to when we consume our coffee. Such as consuming coffee and pooping first thing in the AM, and coffee itself having an additional effect of the gastrin production, for example.

So, exactly why does coffee make you poop? Could be the stimulation, could be some stomach acids, could be a whole lot of keep doing what you’re already doing so you keep pooping and don’t get backed up. However, if you’re one of the people who can’t poop, even with coffee, we’d recommend to all people to increase their daily amount of fiber, fresh vegetables, and water, to have a better time on the porcelain thrown.

Happy pooping friends. Until next time.


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