Why Does Coffee Make Us Poop?

No, you’re not the only one. Drinking coffee gives humans the runs. Here’s why.

A cup of coffee in the morning can be just the thing to get the brain running before work, but it can also make many of us run to the toilet before long.

According to a study on the topic dating back to the 90s, nearly 30% of adults said drinking coffee made them want to go to the bathroom. 

So why does coffee make us poop? The first part of the answer is the caffeine that we all so desperately need. Registered performance dietitian Luke Corey says that caffeine tricks your brain into being awake while also stimulating other organs in your body.

“So caffeine itself is a stimulant, as we know, and not only does it stimulate your brain and your nervous system, but it also can stimulate your bowels,” said Corey. “It's going to move whatever is in there through a lot quicker.”

That means coffee stimulates your organs so much, your intestines can start contracting.

Corey added that compounds in coffee stimulate stomach acid and further activate bowel movements. Research has found that even decaf coffee can jump-start the colon, so there is definitely something in those beans that gets things moving.

The laxative effect of caffeine can kick in within 30 to 60 minutes of ingestion, which means timing is everything when you sip your cup of joe.

Other factors can be considered when it comes to coffee and toilet visits. Many people add milk or cream to their coffee, which can lead to bowel movements for those who are lactose intolerant. Also, coffee is a popular morning beverage and research suggests our bodies are primed for number two in the early hours.

That’s because the colon contracts about three times more vigorously right after humans wake up than when we’re asleep, Dr. Sarina Parischa told Fatherly

This was just one of the interesting facts I discovered in “Connect the Dots,” our series that explores how three seemingly unrelated items are connected to each other. You can watch my journey above and all four episodes here.