Health

This Is Actually Why Coffee Makes You Shit

Is that why the Starbucks bathroom line is always stupid long?

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Like that you have to take a shit immediately after drinking it. Sometimes while you're drinking it.

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So what's going on here? Why does your morning cup function like a ticking time bomb in your colon? BuzzFeed Health checked with gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutkan, author of GutBliss, and colon health specialist Dr. Dmitri Alden, from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, for more info. Apparently, experts aren't entirely sure why coffee has this effect on some people, but there is some science behind the how.

It might be that coffee causes more movement in the colon in some people, but not others.

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A small study in 1990 found that 29% of people reported that they poop after drinking coffee, and people who reported this also had increased movement in the distal colon (the last part of the colon) for at least 30 minutes after they drank coffee. So for some people, coffee makes things ~move along~ more quickly.

Coffee can also stimulate contractions that propel your breakfast down and out, so to speak.

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"Basically coffee stimulates the contractions of the stomach and intestinal tract, and it stimulates bile excretion, which itself is a propellent of food particles because the intestines know that when there is bile there is food," says Alden. "Coffee also helps to release gastrin, a hormone that plays a role in the motility of the intestinal tract."

TL;DR: All this movement means that your colon is hard at work to push out whatever's in there.

But if your post-latte poop happens every morning, it might not be the coffee at all.

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It could just be that your gastrointestinal tract is waking up after being inactive all night. That's called the gastrocolic reflex, which happens when food or drink enters an empty stomach.

"When you have coffee first thing in the morning, it triggers the gastrocolic reflex, which is a hormonal message sent to the colon that it's time to contract to make room," says Chutkan. This reflex could be more pronounced in people with bowel disorders like IBS.

Caffeine probably has nothing to do with it.

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Regular, decaf, espresso, pumpkin spice lattes — they can all have this effect on some people, but not others. According to the study we mentioned earlier, this effect was reported with regular and decaf coffee. Plus, it's not something people typically notice with caffeine-containing drinks or supplements, says Alden.

But if you take your coffee with cream or milk and you’re sensitive to dairy, that could also explain some mid-morning crapping.