Coffee is of course one of the most popular morning pick-me-ups – with millions of people reaching for their favourite caffeinated beverage to give them the boost they need to start their day.
But an energy burst isn’t the only thing many of us get from our morning cup of coffee – as it can also have a laxative effect that sends your bowels into overdrive.
Just why does coffee make you poop – and is it normal for your latte to leave you running for the loo?
Here’s what you need to know…
There are a number of reasons why coffee might be responsible for that sudden rush to the toilet after you’ve downed a cup.
It’s been suggested that the caffeine in coffee can have a profound effect on your inner organs, specifically activating contractions in your colon and intestinal muscles – which in turn push their contents towards your rectum. Delightful.
There is certainly something in this theory, with research into the matter (yes, actual research into this has been done) suggesting that caffeine can increase activity levels in the colon by up to 60% more than water – and 23% more than if you opted for a cup of decaf.
However there may be other factors at play here, not just the caffeine in your hot beverage.
Experts have also suggested that when you drink coffee it triggers the production of hormones in your body, including gastrin – which causes the secretion of stomach acid – and motilin, which stimulates contractions in your gut.
These are also thought to stimulate the body to poop – and if you throw in the fact that your colon is more active first thing in the morning due to your body’s circadian rhythms, it’s a pretty heady combination.
However, in some cases hormones and contractions may have nothing at all to do with a post-coffee poop – in fact, it could be down to the milk or cream you’re adding to your drink.
In fact, it’s been claimed that simple lactose intolerance could be to blame, with those who are unable to properly tolerate milk or cream products sent running for the smallest room in the house as a result of adding them to their coffee.
And the possibility of needing to poop could also be raised if you use sweeteners in your drink – as some ingredients of these, such as xylitol, can cause diarrhoea if used to excess.
While there’s no clear conclusive proof that any one of these factors is the root cause, it’s likely that a combination of all of the above is responsible.
So if you do want to try and avoid this particular after effect, you could try holding off on that first cup of coffee in the morning until your colon’s had time to settle down – or take a close look at what you’re putting in it, and whether any of that could also be to blame for that loo dash.
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