Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 10 to 15 percent of adults in the United States according to the American College of Gastroenterology. It causes symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and urgency.
For most of us, coffee is the wake up beverage of choice. But coffee is also stimulant and stimulants affect bowel function and cause diarrhea in some people.
How Coffee Affects IBS Symptoms
Most people, not just those with IBS, will experience tummy troubles after drinking coffee. Coffee, like other caffeinated drinks, stimulates the stomach intestines and increases the movement of food through your digestive tract.
Unfortunately, one of the hardest dietary changes to make is quitting coffee because caffeine is addictive. Not only that, it is part of American culture.
Withdrawal symptoms of caffeine include painful headaches, loose stools, constipation, sleeplessness, and irritability. But withdrawal symptoms dissipate with time.
But for some people with IBS, giving up coffee might improve their symptoms and overall health.
Why Does Coffee Cause IBS Symptoms?
There are a number of ways that coffee effects IBS.
Coffee stimulates the Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract
Research has shown coffee may cause a laxative effect in people with IBS within four minutes of drinking coffee according to one study out of the University Hospital Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Even small amounts of coffee can have this effect and it’s not just limited to caffeinated coffee; decaffeinated coffee has the same effect.