I don't know when marketing teams decided that a compelling angle to sell products would be the glorification of their individual defecation-causing properties, but it's been going on for a long time. Saturday Night Live even lampooned this phenomenon with its 1989 "Colon Blow Cereal" sketch, and there are tons of other foods that promise a near instant trip to the bathroom: yogurt, dried apricots, and of course, coffee.
But why does coffee make you poop?
Why does coffee make you poop?
While the naturally caffeinated beverage isn't really marketed as being a toilet bowl destroyer, it's a strongly-documented fact that if you want to clear your bowels out first thing in the morning, wake up, drink some water and immediately follow it with a cup of joe. You'll be perched on the porcelain throne in no time, and that's because it awakens our colon and intestines — inspiring the muscles to contract, that is.
This, in turn, gets us to defecate, and for the longest time, it was assumed that caffeine was the source of these contractions. But anyone who's slammed down both energy drinks and coffee at different times of the day knows that this probably isn't the case, at least not entirely. Caffeine does have some sort of an effect on stimulating activity in the colon, however, it's just not the active ingredient in coffee that makes us poo.
For example: Coffee has shown to have a 60 percent more impact on our colon than drinking water, and even decaf coffee has a 23 percent greater "efficacy" on making us go number two than H2O does. It all comes down to the chemical makeup of coffee, and these two compounds: Chlorogenic acids and N-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamides — the latter of which is believed to be primarily responsible for imbuing our rectum with the inspiration to evacuate ourselves.
Damn, coffee really makes me have to poop and I gotta get my lashes done right now 😭— Mercedes (@sincerelymerce_) February 23, 2021
These chemicals are found in coffee and promote the creation of stomach acid, which in turn, more easily help us break down the food in our bellies to make a gross exit.
But it's not as simple as ingesting other foods with these compounds either. While these are indeed active poop-inducing agents in coffee, the entire act of drinking the stuff makes for a perfect brown storm of scatological proportions.
Coffee - 1— javier Alvarez (@lostrebel500) February 22, 2021
My booty - 0
Wait on the rematch
Gastrocolic reflexes are a real thing, and just going through the motions of imbibing liquids can help put your body in the mood for some restroom-visiting action. The same applies to eating, even if it's a very small amount.
Coffee has also been shown to increase the amount of the digestive hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) in our bodies, which is also linked to gastrocolic reflexes.
Then there's the increased production of gastrin — which is stimulated by caffeine and even decaf coffee — as well: 2.3 and 1.7 times more than water, respectively.
It's also important to consider the effect of lactose and dairy products that many people put in their coffee for consumption.
I honestly believe that just the thought of coffee makes me have to poop— 👨🏼🦳 (@adamhovden35) June 25, 2020
The poop-inducing effects of java juice combined with milk, cream, and creamers, especially for people with varying levels of lactose intolerance, means that there's a heightened chance you'll be running to the bathroom in full on emergency mode after that Zoom call, which could've very easily been an email.
So there are a large number of factors surrounding why coffee makes you poop, and it's difficult to pin down the exact reason why this mystical elixir is so effective at making us go potty.
Some even chalk it up to "coincidence" and our own internal clocks deciding when it's time for us to go to the bathroom.
Millions of people start their day with coffee and we probably have our first cup of joe right before we'd have to go to the bathroom anyway. What do you think? Are you convinced that drinking the stuff inspires us to poo? Or is tea more your thing?