Sipping on a cup of morning coffee – or five throughout the day – keeps us alert and gives us the boost of energy we need to make it through work. As you may have noticed, however, coffee also does something else to our bodies. It’s not long after your first cup that you find yourself heading to the bathroom to complete your morning routine. But why does coffee make us poop? Well, we’ll tell you.
Does Coffee Make You Poop?
A 1990 study found that 29% of volunteers found they needed to go to the bathroom after drinking coffee. However, researchers also discovered that these people also had more movement in their distal colon. What this means is that coffee makes some people poop due to the activity in their colons, but it’s not the caffeine itself. It just triggers their bodies because it’s already more sensitive than others.
Not so fast, though. Coffee does still awaken the colon in people. A 1998 study found that caffeinated coffee encourages colonic motor activity. Coffee is also 60% stronger and 23% stronger than decaf coffee for doing this.
It’s Not Just The Coffee
People can develop lactose intolerance into adulthood and if your body is more sensitive to creams or milk than it used to be, it’s time to stop putting those into your coffee. Or, at the very least, be prepared for what it will do to your body.
Drinking something – anything – in the morning also triggers something called the gastrocolic reflex. Basically what happens is that when you drink something after waking, your colon becomes more active. Messages are being sent to your colon that it’s time to make room and empty your system.
Studies have also shown that your colon is way more active in the morning since your body has been resting. So, when you wake up, your colon wakes up too and drinking or eating in the morning only awakens it more. Lots of people have to poop in the morning due to their colonic motor activity, so it might not be the coffee at all.
The Bottom Line
Pooping after you have coffee is totally normal. Calling a spade to spade, though, caffeine might not have anything to do with why you’re pooping. Our colons are waking up with us in the morning, some of us can’t handle dairy, and we activate our gastrocolic reflexes when we ingest anything in the morning.
It’s also normal if you’re not rushing to the bathroom after a cup of coffee. As you saw in that 1990 study, coffee causing the need to poop only happens in about 29% of people.
Whatever your schedule is, if you’re pooping regularly and you’re not in any pain or seeing any weird things, you’re totally fine.