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Can Drinking Coffee Cause Constipation?

author image ShaeLee Chatterton
ShaeLee Chatterton began writing professionally in 2007. She has written articles for "Women's Health" magazine online and edited for LA Splash Magazine. She is a fitness nutrition coach through the National Exercise and Sports Trainer Association and is certified as a personal trainer by the American Council on Exercise. Chatterton earned a Bachelor of Arts in exercise science and communications at Boise State University.
Can Drinking Coffee Cause Constipation?
Coffee may relieve constipation and bloating, unless you react poorly to caffeine. Photo Credit stocksnapper/iStock/Getty Images

Your coffee may greet you in the morning and get you through the day. However, depending on how much coffee you drink and how sensitive you are to caffeine, you may experience side effects that are not so pleasant. Constipation should not be one of those side effects, but what you put in your coffee could be a contributor. If you experience constipation that lasts more than a few days, ask your doctor about solutions.

Coffee and Constipation

Coffee should actually relieve constipation and bloating, because caffeine has a diuretic effect. However, if your body cannot tolerate caffeine or dairy products such as creamer that you add to your coffee, it may lead to constipation or bloating. Dairy products lead to constipation more frequently than coffee itself, so try replacing dairy coffee creamers with nondairy creamers or natural sugar substitutes such as stevia. Constipation from coffee depends on your body type. Talk with your doctor if you experience constipation or other gastrointestinal problems after you drink coffee, because you might have digestion complications or other health concerns.

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Causes of Constipation

Healthy gastrointestinal function requires bowel movements at least once a day. If you experience constipation, you may have less frequent bowel movements and they may be very firm and difficult to pass. You might think coffee is the main contributor to your constipation, but according to the IBS Treatment Center, most chronic constipation is caused by food allergies, hypothyroidism or a combination of both. If you are frequently constipated, ask your doctor whether you might have food allergies or thyroid problems.

Side Effects of Coffee

While coffee might not cause constipation -- unless your body can't properly digest caffeine -- it can directly affect your body in other ways. If you drink too much coffee -- more than four cups, for example -- you might have side effects such as nervousness, feeling jittery, restlessness and anxiety. It could also effect you physically, causing upset stomach, headaches, muscle tremors and insomnia. Cut back on your coffee drinking if you experience any of these side effects.

Coffee Benefits

If you consume coffee in moderation, it can be beneficial to your body beyond the physical energy boost. It can also increase your mental alertness and improve concentration and focus. Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system, which can increase your metabolic rate and possibly help with weight loss. It provides antioxidant properties as well, with polyphenols that help protect your body from free-radical damage such as ultraviolet rays and air pollutants.

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