For many people around the world, coffee is the essential beverage that gets their day started. A cup of coffee not only gives a boost of energy but also stimulates the urgent need to empty the bowels. However, it still remains a mystery how coffee has an instant effect on the digestive system. According to a report by The New York Times, DrRobert Martindale, a professor of surgery and the medical director for hospital nutrition services at Oregon Health and Science University said that the ability of coffee to stimulate the opposite end of the gastrointestinal tract within a few minutes means that it is probably going through the “gut-brain axis.” Martindale added that the arrival of coffee in the stomach sends a message to the brain, which then “stimulates the colon to say, ‘Well, we’d better empty out, because things are coming downstream’.”
The process of defecation happens instantly after consuming the coffee, even though the beverage itself moves through the intestines much more slowly, taking at least an hour to travel the long path from the stomach through the small intestine and to the colon, mentioned the New York Times. The communication between the stomach, brain, and colon which is a normal response to eating is known as the gastrocolic reflex.
Martindale also told that the percentage of people who have a bowel response after drinking coffee is likely much higher in the general population. The medical practitioner suspects that around 60 percent of his patients undergo this effect regardless of their sex.
A study published in the journal Nutrients last year had suggested that coffee’s ability to influence the gut-brain messaging is likely caused by one or more of its many chemicals. The study had mentioned that roasted coffee is a complex mixture of thousands of bioactive compounds and perhaps the urge to defecate right after consuming the beverage may be mediated by some of our own hormones that play important roles in the digestive process, like gastrin or cholecystokinin, both of which can come into action after coffee drinking.