How coffee gets you moving in more ways than one

How coffee gets you moving in more ways than one

Coffee can get you going in the morning — in more ways than one. This beverage, hot or cold, can wake up both your senses and your bowels. But why?

Samantha Oldenburg, nurse practitioner at Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh, WI, explains what research has discovered.

You know about how caffeine makes you feel more awake. Caffeine also can energize your digestive tract, causing your colon and intestinal muscles to contract and quickly push the contents through your colon.

But decaf java makes you poop too, so caffeine isn’t the only culprit. Certain compounds in coffee, particularly chlorogenic acids and N-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamides, have researchers interested in finding out more about their role in stimulating the digestive tract.

Coffee is also thought to raise levels of the hormone known as gastrin, Oldenburg explains. Similar to caffeine, gastrin can activate the colon and give you the urge to go.

Then there’s a few, simpler reasons why coffee can make you poop. The basic act of drinking or eating anything can rev up the colon and send you running to the bathroom.

It can be timing and your internal clock.

“Your colon is twice as active after waking up than it is while you’re sleeping,” Oldenburg says. “Many of your physiological processes are in a natural rhythm and your body is simply telling you it’s time to go.”

And what you put in your morning cup of coffee could have an effect, too. For those who are lactose sensitive or intolerant, adding milk or cream can trigger digestive issues like bloating, cramping and diarrhea soon after drinking.

Bottom line? Although coffee doesn’t make everyone poop, if you’re not regular, a cup of joe just might do the trick.

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  1. Wow what a very informative article. I’m not a coffee drinker but when it’s really cold outside Ibce in a while I will buy either a small hot chocolate or a small coffee (or mix them together) and within a half hour’s time I will be running to the bathroom. Hmm very very interesting ? thanks

  2. Love the article! I kind of learn the facts presented the hard way, yes, I am one of those that use the bathroom after drinking a cup of coffee.
    Question, is it healthy to drink coffee on an empty stomach?

  3. Does this apply for tea drinkers too???

  4. Outstanding explanation of coffee’s effect on the colon, the best of anything I’ve read on this. It impacts me every morning. Even just waking up and drinking some water often has the same impact. Thanks, Samantha.

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About the Author

Mary Arens
Mary Arens

Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.