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Digestive Wellness|Food & Nutrition

Why Does Coffee Make You Poop?

Let’s be real: Coffee poops are a thing. For at least 30 to 40 percent of the population, primarily women, drinking joe stimulates bowel movements. But why? There are quite a few theories. Read on to learn why coffee could be making you poop, and another solution if you're trying to stay "regular."

Caffeine may stimulate your intestinal muscles.

As you know, coffee is packed with caffeine. This energizing elixir may promote peristalsis, the involuntary movement of the muscles in your digestive tract that gets stuff moving through your system, including poop. Although studies have shown that coffee can trigger these muscles significantly more than water, decaf stimulates bowel movements too, so the jury is still out on whether caffeine is why coffee makes you have to go. 

Certain poop-inducing hormones could be released because of coffee.

Cholecystokinin (“co-luh-sis-toe-kye-nin”—say that 10 times fast) is a hormone that has been proven to stimulate bowel movements. Some experts theorize that coffee causes this hormone to be released by the intestine. The same goes for gastrin, a hormone that activates movement in the colon.

For at least 30 to 40 percent of the population, primarily women, drinking joe stimulates bowel movements.

The acid in coffee may speed up bowel movements. 

There’s a compound in coffee called chlorogenic acid that affects levels of stomach acid, which helps break down food and get it moving through the gut. The increase in acidity can speed up this process, making you have to go sooner after drinking coffee. 

Milk and creamer could be what’s making you go.

Particularly if you’re lactose intolerant, it might be what you’re mixing into your coffee that makes you have to use the bathroom, not the coffee itself. Over 60 percent of people have issues digesting the lactose in milk and dairy-based creamer, which can trigger bowel movements. 

If you want to be "regular," consider fiber instead of coffee.
Clearly it’s, well, unclear what exactly about coffee makes people have to poop. While some people don’t mind because it helps them have consistent bowel movements, a cup o’ joe isn’t the only thing that can help you go every day. A fiber supplement like Bellway has the gut-healing benefits of psyllium husk, such as consistent, comfortable bowel movements. Plus, it's made with all-natural ingredients—and nothing that'll give you jitters like coffee will. Just confirm with your doctor that it's right for you, as you should with all supplements.