Caffeine can stimulate the muscles of the digestive system and cause a bowel movement, but it is not recommended due to its dehydrating effects. While coffee can improve digestion, it is not a long-term solution for constipation. Persistent constipation could be a sign of another health problem, such as hypothyroidism. People who are lactose intolerant may also be affected if they add dairy products to their coffee.
The caffeine content in coffee can vary depending on the method of preparation, the type of bean and the amount of ground coffee. A 1998 study gave coffee, decaffeinated coffee, water or a 1000-calorie meal to 12 volunteers and measured their colonic function as a response. Researchers concluded that caffeinated coffee stimulated colon movements 60% more than water and 23% more than decaffeinated coffee. People with IBS and older adults may be more likely to suffer from IBS because their intestines are more sensitive to the effects of coffee. Fiber adds bulk to stool and aids digestion, so eating more fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, legumes, leafy greens, and coffee, can help with constipation. If researchers confirm that coffee stimulates bowel movements, then they should determine which component of coffee causes this laxative effect.
A review that appeared in the World Journal of Gastroenterology indicated that caffeinated coffee might increase acid production in the stomach and movements in the colon in some people. Many people believe that coffee causes them to defecate, and some doctors may advise people with certain intestinal conditions to avoid it. While many researchers have studied the laxative effect of coffee and caffeine, current results are contradictory. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before using coffee as a remedy for constipation.