November 8th is National Cappuccino Day!
I am definitely partial to a coffee or two myself, but have definitely cut down on my coffee and tea intake (caffeinated) in the last year.
Coffee or caffeine doesn't really impact my bowels as it used to since ileostomy surgery in 2011, but it does have a noticeable impact on my body in different ways such as my anxiety, sleep problems & feeling wired.
Disclaimer: Before I start this blog post, I'd just like to remind you that I am writing this from my own experiences & the things I have learnt & understand from my own research. By no means is this medical advice so, as always, if you are concerned or have questions, it's always best to seek medical advice.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine, often found in drinks, is a substance that stimulates the nervous system. Sometimes, it is also added to medication such as paracetamol. Strangely enough, some decaffeinated drinks still contain caffeine.
What can caffeine do to my body?
There has been research (and I know so myself) that taking caffeine can prohibit sleep as it acts as a stimulant. It can also make some people anxious and cause you to need a wee more frequently. Caffeine is also known to be quite addictive, and if people stop drinking caffeinated coffee (for example) suddenly, they can experience withdrawal symptoms.
Does caffeine affect IBD?
In my experience, pre stoma-surgery, I was generally advised to avoid caffeine as I was told it can stimulate and irritate the bowel, especially if your body isn't used to it. Looking around, I haven't seen much scientific evidence linking caffeine and IBD. However, there are some affects that caffeine can cause that can be made worse by IBD.
As caffeine can cause you to wee more, this can lead to dehydration, especially if you are already experiencing diarrhoea and/or vomiting.
Becoming reliant on caffeine to help combat fatigue from IBD can actually make the struggle worse as caffeine crashes happen more frequently.
Caffeine can also make you less hungry which isn't ideal if you already struggle with getting your food down.
Peristalsis (the wave like motion of your bowels working), can actually increase with increased caffeine intake, which is definitely not ideal if you're already spending a decent amount of time on the loo!
The food or drinks themselves that contain caffeine can also include other ingredients and substances known to trigger "flare ups" or make them more severe. Combined with caffeine, these can cause unwanted effects such as more frequent bowel movements or increased urgency, as well as increasing stress hormones in the body. It is well known that stress can be a big trigger for IBD symptoms to worsen.
How can I tell if caffeine is affecting my IBD?
Everyone responds differently to caffeine.
Keep a food & symptoms diary. This is a great way to try and link any symptoms to potential causes.
If you already consume caffeine but want to reduce it, ideally you don't suddenly want to cut it out. This sudden change can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches. Reducing it gradually is usually suggested.