Here's Why Coffee Might Make You Poop

For many, nothing says "good morning" better than a good cup of coffee. Whether you most enjoy its alluring aroma, its complex flavor, or its caffeine jolt to your bloodstream (or all three), few beverages boast such a devoted following. Nor do most beverages spawn such a breadth of discussion regarding their potential side effects.

The most obvious trait that coffee possesses is its ability to awaken its consumer. According to Science Alert, caffeine is the world's most popular "psychoactive substance" and coffee contains a sizeable dose. Caffeine keeps one's neurons active, which in turn, creates a "fight or flight" response. For some people, coffee can make them feel jittery. Dr. Alexea Gaffney-Adams tells Bustle that caffeine can cause muscle spasms, twitching, and anxiety. Does drinking coffee make you need to use the bathroom more often? If it does, you're not alone.

The Continence Program at St. Joseph's Healthcare explains that this increased need to urinate is created by the fact that caffeine doubles as a diuretic and possibly makes the bladder contract by irritating its tissues. But that's not the only bathroom-related association, that this drink boasts. Many coffee drinkers say that coffee enhances their ability to poop.

Coffee gets things started with a stomach contraction

If your bowel movements seem to occur more readily after a cup of Joe, you are not alone. In fact, you and your colon can consider this perfectly normal. Many people around the world who drink coffee may experience the exact same thing. In a 1990 study published by the journal Gut, researchers found that consuming coffee "can stimulate a motor response of the distal colon in some normal people" (there's that word "normal" again). A 1998 clinical trial published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology suggested that caffeinated coffee's ability to get that colon moving was 60% more powerful than that of water. While your normalcy has been scientifically backed (phew), this raises another question. Why does coffee make you poop?

While gastroenterologist Dr. Sameer Islam, author of the "Ask the Poop Doctor" column, tells Men's Health that no one knows exactly why coffee creates bowel movements, it is known that coffee makes one's stomach contract. This contraction spreads down through your intestines and into your colon, creating some serious bowel action. Dr. Kyle Staller, the director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, agrees, telling CNN that the colon goes through three contractions in order to release poop. It is believed that coffee can set these contractions in motion. While there may not be a definitive explanation for the contraction, there are some theories about what makes coffee an effective laxative for some.

Coffee causes a hormonal reaction

Everyone seems to agree that the key to coffee's effectiveness as a buddy to your bowel is the contractions it creates. There are, however, an abundance of theories as to why it affects some people in this way. One possible explanation for coffee's impact on vacuating one's bowels may be hormonal. According to CNN coffee encourages an increase in gastrin, a hormone that allows the human body to create stomach acids. This occurs whether the coffee is caffeinated or not. Speaking with Men's Health, Dr. Sameer Islam noted that the chlorogenic acid found in coffee also increases the amount of acid in the stomach, which empties itself faster in response.

How do we know that coffee could be making food pass through your gut quicker? This stance was supported by a study published in the journal Hepatogastroenterology in 2009. It indicated that drinking coffee causes food to exit the stomach and pass into the small intestine much more quickly. Unfortunately, Men's Health adds that it remains unknown which chemical or chemicals found in coffee beans make this all possible. But maybe the presence of an unsolved mystery makes this phenomenon all the more fascinating.

Coffee beans contain dietary fiber

Jerlyn Jones, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told CNN that compounds called melanoidins, which are produced when coffee is roasted, are high in fiber and substantially aid in the prevention of constipation. Seriously, coffee beans possess fiber. Who knew? Well, apparently the scientists who conducted research for the National Research Council in Madrid did, and their studies support it (via Scientific American). This study provided evidence that brewed java has the same soluble fibers found in "oatmeal and apples." That's pretty cool, but it doesn't mean you should give up fruit and whole grains.

Another important consideration to consider is whether or not people are drinking their coffee black and unsweetened. Health points out that adding milk or cream can trigger a colon clean-out due to lactose intolerance in some instances. The site also says that some artificial sweeteners that people add to their cups of joe can have scary side effects like diarrhea. These factors can also alter the impact coffee has on your digestive system. No matter which of these factors are at play, one fact remains. Who needs prune juice or Milk of Magnesia when you've got coffee?