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How Coffee Affects The Digestive System

For most people, a cup of hot coffee helps them kickstart the day. Not only is this because coffee is a tasty drink, but also because the beverage increases alertness, improves mood and brings more energy. Most importantly, it stimulates bowel movements needed to cleanse the system of the previous day’s food. 

“Drinking early morning coffee works synergistically with gut motility to create healthy bowel movements,” gastroenterologist Dr. Sarina Pasricha said. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you might be going to the restroom many times a day. Worry not, as relieving yourself between three days a week and three times a day is completely normal. For this reason, coffee may even aid normal bowel movements. 

Coffee contains a stimulant known as caffeine that causes frequent contractions of the gastrointestinal tract. Sometimes, the body can get overworked and coffee can cause some stomach issues. As a result, people can get constipated, cramps and soft stools."Coffee has caffeine, and caffeine can boost your metabolism. Caffeine can act as a laxative. This is why drinking coffee can cause some people to have a bowel movement not long after consumption," experts explained. 

A 1998 study conducted by the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa College of Medicine analyzed the effects of caffeine content in coffee on colon function. The researchers used colonic manometry to measure muscle contractions in the colon in 10 healthy subjects for a period of ten hours. Participants randomly received four stimulants during the period of the study which were hot beverages at 45 degrees celsius with a quantity of 240 ml each.

The drinks were black Colombian coffee with 150 mg of caffeine, decaffeinated coffee, water and a whole meal offering 1000 kcal. Each drink’s effect was independently observed on colon motor responses.“Caffeinated coffee stimulates colonic motor activity. Its magnitude is similar to a meal, 60% stronger than water and 23% stronger than decaffeinated coffee,” the researchers found at the end of the experiment.  

While speedy digestion is one of the advantages of this process, coffee could also slow down digestion in some cases.“Caffeine has also been shown to increase production of hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline, which give you the sensation of more energy and cause your heart to beat faster. In doing so, this can decrease blood flow to the intestines, thereby slowing the process of digestion," experts revealed.

Other than caffeine, coffee contains coffee acids that increase stomach acid production and gut contractions. Even decaffeinated coffee contains stomach acids and can result in the same issues. Switching to decaf coffee, however, might help people who think coffee is the main stimulant of their digestive problems. 

Otherwise, additives such as dairy and sweeteners can also cause stomach trouble. Therefore, reducing the quantity of additions to coffee could reduce some of its side effects. Also, consider changing the milk you are using to make your coffee. Try different varieties like almond or soy milk. 

You can choose a coffee variety with beans roasted at a higher temperature, making it less acidic. For example, cold coffee is less acidic. You can also drink coffee along with your regular food to reduce unpleasant bowel movements. 

Coffee Coffee beans. Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay