Your coffee may greet you in the morning and get you through the day. However, depending on how much coffee you drink and how sensitive you are to caffeine, you may experience side effects that are not so pleasant.
The good news is that caffeine influences your digestive system in multiple ways. It serves as a diuretic, it quickens the digestive process and it stimulates your colon. The effect of these mechanisms varies based on other physical factors; depending on your situation, caffeine can actually cause, relieve, worsen or prevent constipation. If you understand how the process works, you can avoid the uncomfortable effects of caffeine and even use its gastrointestinal powers to your advantage.
Constipation is a common condition that affects people of all ages. Frequent constipation affects more than 4 million Americans, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. And in UK it’s estimated that around one in every seven adults and up to one in every three children has constipation at any one time.
Does Coffee Cause Constipation? The simple answer is “yes”.
The dehydrating effects of a diuretic, like caffeine, can cause constipation in two ways. First, if your kidneys remove too much water from your system, through frequent urination, then your colon may not receive enough fluid to process the stools properly. Second, the colon’s overactive absorption of liquid also takes away the moisture needed to make your bowel movements soft, smooth and easy to pass. The dry, hardened stools that result from dehydration cause constipation.
If you abstain from consuming caffeine, of course, then the caffeine has no opportunity to cause constipation. If you do consume caffeine, however, you can still compensate for its diuretic effects and hence prevent the dehydration that leads to constipation. By drinking plenty of non-caffeinated fluids, preferably water, you can ensure that your colon always has enough liquid to keep your stools moist and to process your solid wastes effectively. If you remain properly hydrated, then caffeine will only serve as an aid and stimulant to your digestion, without causing constipation.