Is it healthy to drink coffee for this express purpose?
I don’t suggest an excessive intake of coffee (more than two 8oz cups per day) for the sole purpose of stimulating a bowel movement. An excessive caffeine intake (higher than 740mg) may excrete calcium and magnesium from your body, induce hypertension, and exacerbate anxiety. Excessive caffeine intake may also disrupt sleep, as it takes about 10 hours for caffeine to leave the body. Coffee can also make stools harder to pass -- it’s a diuretic, so it draws liquid out of stools.
Adequate consumption of dietary fiber, proper hydration, stress management, and daily exercise can help you have healthy, regular bowel movements. Check out this article for more tips on healthy digestion and maintaining a happy belly!
Do different brew methods make a difference? Will you poop more if you drink espresso as opposed to instant or drip?
Roasting, grinding, and brewing times can all affect the amount of caffeine. For example, one fluid ounce of espresso will have 50-75mg of caffeine, while 8oz of brewed coffee contains 95-200mg of caffeine.
Do additions like milk, cream, and/or sugar/sugar substitutes make a difference?
Generally speaking, the laxative and diuretic effects of caffeine are experienced with or without sugar, cream, or dairy and non-dairy milk. Some artificial sweeteners contain sugar alcohols, which may cause bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort, though. Milk and cream may also affect an individual if they are lactose intolerant, and additives like guar gum and carrageenan may have similar negative digestive effects.
Our managing editor Bison wonders why coffee makes him pee differently than other beverages. To quote: "Like, beer makes me have to pee, but it'll be a large volume maybe once per hour, whereas coffee makes me pee a little bit every 15 goddamn minutes."
Both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics but have different mechanisms for stimulating diuresis. Alcohol inhibits vasopressin -- an anti-diuretic hormone that is released from the pituitary gland. As a result, we will experience more urgency to urinate.
Jacqueline Aizen is a registered dietitian and graduate of New York University, where she pursued her interest in nutrition studies. She has written for Prevention, and is currently a contributor for Be Light Living, and a health expert for ChickRx.