The real reason coffee gets you going (to the toilet)

My dad used to drink coffee from a cup that read “coffee gets you going”. Until I started enjoying a cup of Joe myself, I assumed this related to the brain-stimulating effects of a long black. But now I understand that coffee gets you going in more way!

Most of us know that coffee is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to excrete more liquid – i.e. wee. But for many, a morning coffee sends us straight to the bog for a number wwo.

Why does this happen? And why are some people affected more than others?

The answer to both questions is: caffeine.

It’s the caffeine in coffee that stimulates muscle contraction in the large intestines, mimicking the body’s response to a large meal. As some people are naturally more sensitive to caffeine, they will experience this laxative effect more consistently.

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William DePaolo, a molecular microbiology and immunology professor at the University of Southern California explains in The Huffington Post, we know caffeine is the culprit because those who drink decaf don’t tend to experience the post-latte urge. Neither do cola drinkers thanks to the lower caffeine loading (a brewed coffee can contain up to 175 milligrams of caffeine, compared to 34 in Coca-Cola.

Professor DePaolo adds that coffee is an acidic beverage, which causes an increase in the production of bile acids in the body. Coffee can promote the gall bladder to release bile into the intestines, leading to diarrhoea.

Add to this the effects of the milk (or milk alternative) added to the drink, plus sugar or artificial sweeteners, which put extra pressure on your guts. Some artificial sweeteners can cause bloating, gas and, you guessed in, diarrhoea.

All in all, it’s little wonder coffee puts the poo in cappuccino.

Without going into too much detail (please) tell us, can you relate to this?