Why you might have the coffee poops

Heydi Ortiz, News Editor

As college students it’s not uncommon to stop by Starbucks for your daily cup of coffee. After grabbing your iced caramel latte, you head straight to class. As you sit there, listening to your professor give endless talks about whatever it may be, all of a sudden a certain feeling comes upon you. Here’s why:

Of course, everyone knows about coffee’s laxative abilities but no one has ever really given an explanation as to why it makes you poop. It has nothing to do with caffeine but more with the suspicion that coffee might rid you from bacteria found in your guts.

Scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston decided to get behind the mystery by giving lab rats coffee and the results were presented at a Digestive Disease Week conference. They gave rats a tiny cup of coffee consistently for three days, with different groups receiving both decaf and caffeinated coffee.

The study suggests that muscles in the small and large intestine were more able to contract after drinking coffee. But this isn’t the first study to suggest that coffee directly affects the gut.

A study conducted in 1990, surveyed 58 men and 34 women from ages 17 to 27 years of age. Out of those 99 healthy subjects, 63 percent of the women reported a coffee induced desire to defecate. More results revealed that there was an increase in bowel movements within the first four minutes after ingestion of both regular and decaffeinated coffee which lasted about 30 minutes. So, not everyone feels the need to head to the bathroom post coffee.

But researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch also decided to look at the rat poop itself and found that while coffee may make you feel like you need to go it’s also good for you. Compared to poop made without the consumption of coffee, there were less total bacteria in poop produced by coffee drinkers. When they exposed the poop to a solution made with 1.5 percent coffee the bacteria stopped growing and even more when dunked into 3 percent coffee. The results were the same when it came to decaffeinated coffee. Meaning coffee could be associated with being an antibacterial agent.

Still, more research is yet to be done about why coffee has this effect on bacteria, other factors that play into coffee making us poop, as well as whether or not coffee should be used to cure constipation.

Yet, there has been research suggesting that coffee intake might be a protective factor against colon cancer so maybe it wouldn’t hurt to keep drinking that coffee.


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