Many people need to go to the bathroom after enjoying their coffee. The misconception that caffeine is the reason for this is widespread. But this effect also occurs with caffeine-free drinks. Find out here what is really behind this phenomenon.
For many people, nothing works without coffee – this is especially true in the morning. But the brown fuel not only wakes you up, it also has many other side effects: it not only stimulates the mind, but also digestion. Because it gets the intestinal activity going and thus drives one or the other coffee drinker to the toilet.
Gastroenterologist Pascale M. White, assistant professor at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, confirmed to the British portal “popsugar.co.uk” that coffee revs up digestion. However, she also says that the research on this is not yet mature. Experts are not sure which ingredients in coffee send people to the toilet.
Coffee with or without caffeine: Researchers observed the same effect on the gut
There are studies, confirms White, that show that coffee stimulates bowel movements. She mentions a study from the 1990s that is still fundamental to research today: In the survey that was published in 1990 in the magazine “Gut” (English for “intestine” or “stomach”) and which can be viewed online, Researchers gave 14 subjects black, unsweetened coffee. Eight of them had previously indicated that they needed to go to the bathroom after drinking coffee.
The researchers found that drinking both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee in these eight within four minutes stimulated bowel movements for 30 minutes. Nothing happened with the other six. On the other hand, the researchers were not able to observe increased intestinal activity in any of the test subjects if they were only given the same amount of hot water. Conclusion: Temperature and the amount of liquid have no influence. However, it is also likely that the reaction is not caused by the caffeine in the coffee – after all, they also observed the reaction after drinking decaffeinated coffee.
This is how coffee boosts digestion
A hormone could possibly be responsible for the effect: It is known that coffee promotes the release of gastrin, according to the authors of the study. The hormone, which is produced in the gastric mucosa, stimulates the smooth muscles of the stomach and stimulates the production of gastric acid. The stomach acid breaks down the chyme, which then slides into the intestinal tract. Eventually, contractions of the bowel propel it toward the exit. In summary, one can say: When you drink coffee, the food slides faster through the digestive tract.
Although studies suggest that coffee with and without caffeine has a similar effect on the gut, there is also evidence that caffeine itself is a stimulant. However, there is still a need for research, says gastroenterologist Pascale M. White.
Coffee stimulates the wave-like muscle contractions of the colon wall, explained nutritionist Birgit Warnecke from the German Coffee Association in 2015 on “stern.de”. But why doesn’t coffee have the same effect on everyone? Nutritionist Warnecke knows: once again, the genes make the difference.