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What's in Coffee that Makes You Poop? Here's All We Know

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By Dewey Olson - - 5 Mins Read
A person walking into a toilet holding a roll of tissue
| Shutterstock

Coffee is a beverage that people have varying opinions on. To some, coffee is a reliable companion, as it helps them stay alert and energetic all day long. However, others experience negative effects from coffee, which discourage them from consuming it.

Sometimes, drinking coffee can cause a sudden urge to have a bowel movement, either immediately or several hours later. This is a common experience for many people, who have given it a nickname: "laxative coffee." What causes this phenomenon is still unclear, but it's not a rare occurrence.


To begin with, laxatives can aid in bowel movement. Researchers are currently investigating why coffee can cause people to have a bowel movement. Studies have already shown that coffee can even help relieve constipation in patients who have had abdominal surgery. This was discovered in a study conducted in 2018.


Additionally, Desiree Nielsen, a plant-based dietitian and cookbook author from Vancouver, Canada, has confirmed that coffee can help relieve constipation in patients.


Scientists Aren't Sure of How Coffee Works 


A cup of black coffee and a spoon on a wooden surface
| Pixabay


It's great to know that coffee can be helpful in relieving constipation. However, it's still a mystery to scientists as to why this is the case.


Kyle Staller, MD, MPH, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said it is a kind of mystery to pinpoint how coffee helped to induce poop. "It’s one of the many parts of normal digestive function that remains a mystery," he said.


But there's a catch here! 


Maybe scientists are napping on their jobs. Staller says that the occurrence of coffee helping induce poop is probably so rampant that scientists don't feel the need to put a proper study on the phenomenon. Or maybe studying this phenomenon is entirely stressful, unlike the study being made on how to enjoy alcohol without having the dreadful hangover.


Desiree Nielsen, while speaking about the coffee and constipation phenomenon, said it can be quite difficult to make a study of this occurrence. "Coffee alone contains over a thousand different active compounds," he said.


It seems that Nielsen's point is that understanding how coffee affects the human body will be difficult. This is because coffee can have varying effects and reactions within the body.


Some people take coffee, and they are immediately active due to the substance entering their body system. On the other hand, some people can doze off after having a cup of coffee. Factors like this are one of the things that will make it hard to know exactly how the substance works in the body to make one poop. 


Different Coffee and How They Relate to Poop 

Yeah, the type of coffee you take might play a massive role in determining whether you poop or not. Both caffeinated and decaf coffee seem to encourage bowel movement. Don't be fooled by the name. Decaf coffee still contains some amount of caffeine. 


Although there's no official data to back it up, both hot and cold coffee also makes human poop.


"We do know that it is not temperature alone that is the secret to coffee’s bowel-stimulating ways," Staller said.