How Does Coffee Affect The Digestive System?

There are a lot of benefits associated with starting your day with a hot cup of coffee. The stimulating properties of the caffeine mean that you can wake up more easily, and have the mental alertness to get through the day.

However, some people may find that the effects that coffee has on their digestive system can override all of the good that caffeine does for them. Here, Jiale Coffee takes you through the effects that coffee has on your digestive system:

#1. Caffeine Stimulates More Than Your Mind

Coffee Heart Health

If you’re a coffee drinker, then you already know that drinking a cup of coffee can result in you requiring the bathroom soon after. This isn’t always a bad thing, as kick starting your digestive system in the morning can help you feel cleaner and more energetic.

However, some people may find that this stimulation can irritate the bowels, causing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.

Gastrointestinal problems are often triggered by certain foods and drinks; unfortunately, coffee tends to be one of them. This happens because caffeine works as a stimulant in many parts of your body, including your muscles.

Your large and small intestines are lined with smooth muscles and are, therefore, susceptible to this stimulation. That’s why drinking coffee in the morning can lead to a need to visit the bathroom soon after.

#2. Coffee Can Affect Your Stomach Lining

Your stomach contains an acid that is required to break down the foods that you eat, and the lining serves to protect your stomach from the damage that this acid can cause. It produces mucus and other compounds that have protective qualities.

When your stomach lining becomes damaged, inflammation can occur; this can lead to more serious problems, such as ulcers.

Coffee is acidic, so when you drink it, you are increasing the acidity of your stomach’s contents. In addition, coffee itself can stimulate the production of stomach acid.

This leads to irritation, particularly in people who suffer from IBS, and may induce bloating and diarrhea.

Drinking coffee can also lead to heartburn and acid reflux, due to the stomach acid that it produces. You may find that you have one or all of these issues when you drink coffee.

#3. Coffee Can Act As A Laxative

While increased levels of stomach acid can lead to diarrhea, it is certainly not the only way. We mentioned that drinking coffee can lead to the stimulation of your digestive track, and the most common way is through the induction of peristalsis.

This may sound complicated, but it really just refers to the contraction of your intestinal muscles. Peristalsis is a normal bodily function that is required to move your digested food through your system.

It occurs as a wave of muscle contractions that ensures the passage of the digested material from your stomach to your colon.

While this normally happens over a certain period of time, the caffeine in coffee can make it happen faster, in as little as four minutes after you drink it. As the digested material spends less time in your intestines, the end result is diarrhea.

How To Avoid Digestive Problems After Drinking Coffee

peppermint coffee with chocolate

While these problems may be common, people tend to find themselves putting up with the symptoms, rather than to avoid coffee altogether. However, there are ways that you can avoid digestive problems after drinking a cup of Joe.

The first way is to reduce the amount of coffee you drink. The Food and Drug Administration advises that ten ounces of coffee each day is the recommended limit. At or under this amount, you may find that your symptoms can be vastly reduced.

The amount of coffee drinking that will cause IBS-like symptoms is very specific to each individual, and you can find your own personal limit by cutting down each day until you experience no problems.

Remember not to cut coffee out completely, as you are likely to suffer from withdrawal symptoms instead.

Another way to avoid digestive problems when drinking coffee is to switch to decaf. The main reason that coffee causes these problems to begin with, is because of the caffeine content.

By eliminating the caffeine, you’ll find that your stomach will be happier, and you’ll be frequenting the bathroom on a less regular basis.


If you like to start your mornings with a cup of coffee, you might feel like there is no way to get around the digestive problems that you suffer from immediately afterwards.

Understanding why these issues occur in the first place may help you with a plan on how to reduce or avoid them altogether.

We hope that this article has helped you to understand why coffee causes your digestive issues, and what you can do about them.