For many of us, coffee is an integral (some say vital) part of our daily lives. Most people cannot function before their morning cup of coffee, and others need it in the morning to maintain regularity. But is coffee really a natural laxative? Or is it just a fairy tale? We looked at the science to find out what actually happens to your body when you drink a cup of coffee. Plus, we discovered other ways coffee can help (or harm) your health.
Is coffee a natural laxative?
As many coffee lovers know, sometimes it’s important to plan our morning run to the bathroom after our cup of coffee, or vice versa. It turns out that coffee can make you poop because it stimulates the muscles in the colon. Which helps it spread its content, which causes you to poop.
There are many theories to explain this phenomenon. But surprisingly, it’s not the caffeine. A 1990 study by Gut magazine showed that regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee had the same effect on participants’ bowel movements. Some have speculated that it might be the acidity of coffee that prompts our stomachs to secrete gastric acid to fuel transit. However, drinks like orange juice are also acidic. But they don’t have the same effect. It doesn’t seem to be the temperature either.
Those who drink iced coffee may still feel a relatively immediate urge to go to the bathroom, and those who drink other hot beverages may not. Nobody really knows why coffee can make you run to the bathroom. Just that it stimulates your gut muscles and has an added benefit of helping you have an efficient bowel movement.
While coffee’s ability to make you poop is well known, did you know it can make us go to the bathroom for another reason too? Coffee is known as a bladder stimulant. That said, certain foods or drinks can cause our bladder to become overstimulated, leading to the urge to urinate and even incontinence.
Common ingredients in bladder irritants include:
carbon dioxide and caffeine.
Depending on how we drink our coffee, it could meet all of these criteria. If you’re constantly thinking about your next bathroom break, coffee could be the culprit.
How coffee affects the brain
The main active ingredient in coffee is caffeine. It helps us feel more alert and alert, even early in the morning or late at night. It does this by mimicking the structure of a brain chemical called adenosine. Adenosine actually makes us tired. Our bodies produce more adenosine during the day, which helps us fall asleep at night. When caffeine enters the body, it attaches to the receptors that bind adenosine and blocks them to prevent us from getting tired.
As we eventually adjust to a daily dose of coffee, our brains adapt too. This creates more adenosine receptors, which in turn require more caffeine to keep you awake. Because of this, withdrawal symptoms can occur when you try to break the coffee habit or find yourself going from two to three cups a day.
Can coffee have negative effects on the body?
Although coffee is used by millions of people to stay awake and alert, some of us are not lucky enough to experience such a positive effect. Coffee can also make people jittery and anxious. In fact, caffeine triggers the “fight-or-flight” response. Actually fills us with adrenaline. It can increase our heart rate, make us sweat, and even sharpen our hearing. And while all of this is very useful for trying to outrun a tiger in the jungle, it’s not so useful for writing an important document for work. If you’re someone who is bothered by coffee or drinks too much of it but still want the benefits of caffeine, try swapping it out for green or black tea. Certain teas may also help improve digestive health.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.
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