Skip to content

Coffee Can Make You Poop, But Is It Good For Constipation? 

Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
By Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen
August 24, 2020

When it comes to coffee, the health consensus can be mixed. Some praise the drink for its brain benefits, healthy antioxidants, and performance-enhancing abilities. For others, coffee can lead to gut issues, such as heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach pain. But how does coffee affect digestion—and more specifically, constipation?

Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Can coffee help with digestion?

"It's likely that coffee consumption induces the gastrocolic reflex," integrative medicine doctor Alejandra Carrasco, M.D., tells mbg. The gastrocolic reflex is a physiological response, which induces movement of the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract. 

In other words, coffee stimulates movement through the digestive tract and makes you want to poop. While researchers aren't clear exactly why coffee increases digestion, it's clear that it does. "The warm temperature of the liquid may stimulate motility," integrative gastroenterologist Marvin Singh, M.D., previously told mbg, "and the caffeine also contributes to contractions of the bowel." 

Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

What about caffeine versus decaf? 

According to one study, both caffeinated and decaf coffee can increase bowel motility, but another study suggests caffeinated coffee has greater effects. The latter study found caffeinated coffee stimulated colonic movement 23% more than decaf coffee. 

Chemicals in both caffeinated and decaf coffee, like chlorogenic acids, may contribute to the digestive process and stimulation of the bowel, Singh says.

So, is coffee a solution for constipation?

While coffee can certainly enhance digestion, it's not a long-term solution to constipation. Persistent constipation could be a sign of another health issue, like hypothyroidism, Carrasco says. 

Other underlying gastrointestinal issues may include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis, which can all be exacerbated by the acidity in coffee, registered dietitian Nour Zibdeh, M.S., RDN, writes for mbg.  

"I would recommend people focus on adequate hydration, daily fiber consumption, and work with their physician to ensure there isn't a causal reason for constipation," Carrasco says. Opting for less acidic versions of coffee may also be beneficial for the gut.

Want to turn your passion for wellbeing into a fulfilling career? Become a Certified Health Coach! Learn more here.
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Abby Moore
Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager

Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.