Can coffee cause Diarrhea? (3 Similar Conditions)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can coffee cause diarrhea? We will discuss reasons which can cause you to have diarrhea by drinking coffee. We will discuss the distress that coffee can cause to the stomach and how to combat them.

Can coffee cause diarrhea?

Coffee can cause diarrhea as its constituents tend to have a laxative effect. Generally, most people drinking over two or three cups of coffee can cause diarrhea. It is not only caffeine which contributes to the laxative effect in coffee, therefore, decaffeinated drinks could also cause a similar effect. Other additives and ingredients such as milk, cream or sugar can make diarrhea worse.

Why does coffee cause diarrhea?

Caffeine, dairy products, and sweeteners in coffee have a laxative effect, which stimulates the digestive system. Adequate consumption of coffee and a healthy digestion will compel you to evacuate your bowels after you drink coffee. However, if it causes diarrhea, it indicates a sensitivity to some or all of the ingredients of a coffee. If limiting your coffee to a moderate amount does not help, it indicates an allergy or sensitivity to the ingredients. 

Caffeine stimulates the nervous system by producing the hormone called adrenaline. The boosted nervous system affects the colons and GI tract, causing a person to experience stomach discomfort. 

A different culprit could be from the milk or cream added to the coffee which has a laxative effect. Lactose intolerance is a widespread health condition, which requires you to minimize, if not shut down, dairy products from the diet. Lactose intolerance affects 65 percent of the population, including children and adults. 

Natural sugar or fructose added to coffee also contributes to disturbing the digestive tract, as do the artificial sweeteners such as mannitol and sorbitol. Sweeteners have an osmotic effect in the gut, which forces water and electrolytes out of the body.

What is the safe limit for coffee?

According to the FDA, the safe limit for coffee is 400 mg a day. You can drink 4 to 5 cups of coffee in a day. However, some people are more sensitive than others. Care should be taken if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or nursing.

Even genetic makeup can affect how a person reacts to caffeine. The enzymes which break down caffeine in the liver can vary and so can the nerve receptors which respond to caffeine. The above factors can make the safe or recommended dose vary from one person to another.

If a person experiences symptoms like palpitations, anxiety, dizziness, insomnia and GIT discomfort, it could mean that you are experiencing caffeine sensitivity. 

Other FAQs about Coffee which you may be interested in.

How long can coffee creamer sit out of the fridge?

Can you eat a coffee bean?

Can coffee cause gas?

What are some other side effects associated with drinking coffee?

The stimulating effect of caffeine lasts for a short while, after which it can cause some people to crash. A caffeine crash is identified by sudden fatigue and sleepiness.

A boosted nervous system affects the colons and GI tract, causing a person to experience stomach discomfort.

Coffee is an acidic beverage that is heavy on the stomach. Acidic foods can cause Digestive problems like ulcers and heartburn. The pH of coffee lies at around 5, which is sufficiently acidic. 

Coffee can trigger GERD symptoms in people who drink regularly. Some people can experience painful Gastrointestinal symptoms if they consume acidic beverages regularly. Even if you do not experience such adverse effects, it is still advisable to adhere to moderate caffeine.

Coffee can cause gas. Caffeine can increase stomach acid and cause GIT discomfort. Caffeine stimulates the digestive system and causes spasms in the bowels and causes gas.

The acid from coffee causes an imbalance in the stomach acid because it increases gastric secretions such as Hydrochloric acid and consequently causes colon movement. 

Coffee is an acidic beverage that can damage the lining of the stomach and cause inflammation. Drinking excessive amounts of coffee can affect the GIT and causes conditions like Gastritis, reflux, and ulcers.

What happens to coffee as it enters the digestive system?

When we drink coffee, it goes through our digestive system to metabolize it. The absorbable compounds enter the bloodstream, which then travels to multiple organs of the body; e.g., the brain. The metabolites then enter the liver to metabolize. 

The liver then follows multi-step processes to get rid of the coffee from the system. In subsequent procedures, the products become more and more water-soluble to allow for excretion to occur.

Certain physiological factors come into play when it comes to the metabolism and digestion of coffee; such as the use of oral contraceptives, smoking, and pregnancy. The metabolism is also subjective to tolerance and sensitivity to the coffee compounds.

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can coffee cause diarrhea? We discussed reasons which can cause you to have diarrhea by drinking coffee. We discussed the distress that coffee can cause to the stomach and how to combat them.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.