Caffeine does have side-effects!

While diet and stress are considered to be the biggest causes or factors that lead to the prevalence of several gut-related syndromes like the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or various Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), certain foods such as coffee or any caffeinated drinks have been found to be triggering and aggravating the conditions. While there are several other foods that are responsible for gastrointestinal discomfort, the addiction of caffeine becomes the most difficult to get rid of, despite the known circumstances.


It is important to know what happens to your body when you take coffee and why is it bad if you have known symptoms of any gastrointestinal issues –



  • Caffeine causes a stimulating effect on the Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract

Caffeine is known for its laxative effect, and within 4 minutes of consumption of coffee, the GI tract is stimulated for bowel movement. But the issue arises when the body is not ready for disposal and thus resulting in loose motions! Thus, if you already have experienced instances of having a weak gut with conditions such as IBS or IBD, it is best to avoid coffee.



  • Coffee Irritates the Intestines:

The highly acidic nature of coffee often leads to hypersecretion of gastric acids. Interestingly, decaffeinated coffee is known to increase acidity even more than a regular coffee. Due to its highly acidic nature, the gastric emptying process speeds up, resulting in the acidic contents of the stomach being passed on into the intestines too quickly, thus often causing injury of the small intestinal tissues.



  • Coffee Elevates the Stress Hormones

Caffeine present in coffee is known to elevate the various stress hormones in the body like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These are the hormones that are mainly responsible for increase in the heart rate and blood pressure causing a sense of emergency in the body. A direct consequence of the action of these hormones is that the blood flow diverts from the digestive system, leading to indigestion. Also, the “fight or flight” response of the body which is caused due to stress, can be elevated with caffeine due to its stimulation of the above hormones. Since the neural control of the GI tract is greatly affected by stress and emotions, increased stress levels leads to these health disorders like IBS and IBD which are extremely sensitive to stress.



  • Caffeine is Diuretic

Caffeine, being diuretic in nature, causes the excretion of fluids from the kidneys thus leading to dehydration. Water is known to be an important part of the entire digestion and elimination process. Thus, a dehydrated state of the body leads to hard stools and constipation – another symptom of the IBS.



  • Coffee reduces Magnesium absorption

Magnesium is one the essential minerals in the body, and plays a very important role in more than 300 cell reactions.It is mainly found in leafy vegetables,banana, nuts and so on. With caffeine in the body, the magnesium absorption in the body is reduced, and this mineral gets pulled out of cells to maintain the plasma concentration. This causes magnesium deficiency in the body. It is essential to maintain adequate amounts of magnesium in the body to ensure proper bowel movements. It is also a very effective laxative. Also, for someone who is already suffering from IBS, where is there is an irritation of the mucous membrane in the GI tract, there is a great need for adequate magnesium in the body which plays a vital role in wound healing.



  • Caffeine interferes with GABA metabolism

GABA – Gamma-aminobutyric acid is produced naturally in the brain and in the GI tract. It plays an important role in stress management by exerting a calming effect on the GI tract muscles and tissues. Caffeine interferes in this process, thus preventing the receptors from performing the calming functions. In IBS patients, the GI tract is almost always irritated and hyperactive and if the GABA’s stress management duties are compromised due to the presence of caffeine, there could be elevated levels of discomfort.

Hence, if you or anyone you know are suffering from any of the above-mentioned gastrointestinal disorders, considering eliminating caffeine not just from coffee but from all other possible dietary sources would be highly beneficial knowing the unfavorable effects that caffeine has on the GI tract.



Article Credits – Trina Roy