Is It Just Me, Or Coffee Is Really Laxative
If you ever asked yourself: “Coffee makes me poop, how come?” you are not alone. It turns out there are about half of your office co-workers that need to go to the loo for the same reason as you, they drank their coffee. You must be wondering why are you going for number two every time you drink a cup of joe.
First of all, no, it’s not your imagination, it is a reality, and it’s backed by science. However, not everybody benefits the laxative effects of coffee, you are one of the lucky 30%, or maybe unlucky, because for some the laxative effect of coffee can be a bit too much. Coffee is indeed an interesting drink.
The Scientific Explanation of the Laxative Effect of Coffee
The laxative effect of coffee is not attributable to the caffeine content, as many people think. In fact, decaffeinated coffee has the same laxative effect as the regular coffee. More interesting, the effect is only present in some people, the literature suggests 30% to 50%, with varying degrees of effectiveness. It looks like women are more inclined to go for a number two after a cup of joe.
According to the Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology, their research shows that coffee increases rectosigmoid motor activity in some people. The effects of coffee are comparable to having a 1000 kCal meal.
Since coffee contains no calories, and its volume is low, the researchers conclude that it must have pharmacological effects. Furthermore, caffeine is not the only substance responsible for the laxative effects, and in fact, decaf is also effective for increasing bowel motility, but to a lesser degree.
The conclusion is that unidentified compounds in the coffee, and caffeine, are responsible for stimulating peristaltic movement in the colon, simulating a meal. Here is another study where water, food, decaf, and regular coffee are compared, to determine their effectiveness in stimulating colonic motor activity. The study found that caffeinated coffee is a stronger laxative than decaf.
As mentioned before, coffee can be laxative in various degrees, for different people, with some people getting just a bit of a push, while other getting seriously looser stools. However, for those with serious problems, many times the sweetener and the creamer can worsen the problem. Try it black if you are one of the people with serious problems after a cup of joe.
Here is a full text of another study on the effect of coffee on distal colon function.
But Isn’t Coffee Dehydrating?
And if yes, coffee should actually constipate me… Yes and no. Coffee, (caffeine in particular), is a diuretic. But this happens with larger doses of coffee, the equivalent of 500 to 600 mg of caffeine a day. The typical coffee drinker will not experience significant dehydration from one cup mellow strength coffee daily.
Even if you drink more coffee you should be fine as long as you go to the toilet in time. What that means is that you have to go when you feel like you need to. That’s when your stool is still soft, and the peristaltic movement makes you go. If you pass that magical moment, the peristaltic movement stops, and you start to dehydrate. If you don’t feel the urge to go, just go for 10 minutes walk, and you will definitely need it after that.
If you wonder if decaf works too for stimulating the need to go for number two, yes it does. And the great news is that is less dehydrating than the regular stuff. Myself… I’d rather be a little dehydrated.