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Number One and Number Two

Drinking coffee affects your bathroom habits. Learn more about how coffee is both a diuretic and a laxative - and what about decaf?

Coffee makes you pee

Regular coffee is a known diuretic: it makes you pee. Studies show that caffeine is a fairly mild diuretic; you need to consume more than 360 milligrams of caffeine for it to have an effect on your urine production. That's quite a lot of caffeine; it will take you at least 2 cups to feel an effect and even then you most likely won’t get dehydrated.

A 2014 study, showed that even in caffeinated coffee, the diuretic effect is limited. Study participants, who were all moderate coffee drinkers (3 - 6 cups a day), showed no significant difference in measures of hydration (such as urine volume) between drinking water or coffee.

So while caffeine is technically a diuretic, it probably won’t affect your number one habits too much. That said, if you’re already dehydrated, for instance after a night of drinking alcohol, regular coffee is not your best bet to feel better.

Coffee makes you poop

In another toilet-related topic, it’s often said that coffee makes you poop.

Researchers generally believe that caffeine and other substances in coffee help activate the gastro-intestinal tract, though the exact reason for this is not known. Drinking coffee can stimulate peristalsis - the movement of one’s intestines during digestion - though not to a greater degree than after eating a meal.

What about decaf?

Decaffeinated coffee still might have an effect on your bowel movements, another indication that it is not solely due to caffeine that caffeine has this effect. It might be a way for you to regulate your body, or something you’d like to limit your intake of.

The diuretic effect of coffee is due to caffeine, and consequently, decaffeinated or low-caf coffee will not make you urinate more than drinking the same amount of water, making both excellent beverages to keep hydrated during the day. If you’re worried about managing your water balance, switching de decaf or low caf coffee will surely keep you hydrated all day!

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