A recent article from CNN.com asked the question many of us have spent our mornings pondering while on the toilet, “Why does coffee make you poop?” There haven’t been many serious studies on the subject, but other studies over the years have found coffee good for heart health and overall life longevity.

The body’s process in creating and eventually excreting excrement is based on three contraction types in the colon, created by muscular, chemical, and neural means.

Of the limited number of small studies found, one resulted that caffeinated coffee was 60 percent more successful than water alone in stimulating colon contractions. It was also 23 percent more effective than decaffeinated coffee, leading some to believe the caffeine aspect may play a role in the process.

Another study found that this effect begins after just four minutes and lasts up to at least 30 minutes after drinking unsweetened black coffee. The fact that this effect occurred so quickly implies that the coffee affects the colon before it even reaches it via a “gastrocolic mechanism” in the stomach lining.

This is likely due to coffee’s creation of the hormone gastrin, the precursor to gastric or stomach acid, which helps digestion and is thought to urge activity in the colon. Melanoidins are an additional fiber compound found in coffee known to relieve constipation.

Then, of course, there are the frequent additives to many folks’ coffee: dairy and sugar or sugar substitutes. Lactose intolerance could be the perpetrator of your morning poop. Some sugar replacements have also been found to make you go.

Read more on CNN.com: Why Does Coffee Make You Poop?

No matter the reasoning, if you rely on coffee or any other product to jump start your GI tract, it may be time to see a gastroenterologist, a stomach and colon specialist.

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