Why do things like coffee, tobacco, spicy foods, etc. speed up the digestive process?


Why do things like coffee, tobacco, spicy foods, etc. speed up the digestive process?

In: Biology

Since this has been ignored I’ll give you my understanding which is based on experience in the boutique liquor industry rather than any scientific or academic background.

The concept of aperitifs and digestifs may be helpful. These are, respectively, a drink you take before the meal, and a drink you take after the meal.

Traditionally aperitifs are bitter drinks like Campari. While aperitif can just mean having a drink before a meal, ostensibly the drink should stimulate your appetite or make the meal more pleasurable. Bitter herbs supposedly stimulate the digestive system – they start the juices flowing. The touch of alcohol should relax you, making your senses more receptive. That’s the ideal anyway.

A digestif, again, can just be a drink after the meal, but as the name suggests it is traditionally thought of as aiding digestion. While brandies and sweet liqueurs are often offered as digestifs, if you really want to help digestion you should have some more bitters, for the same reason as an aperitif. It will stimulate the digestive system.

Coffee is both a diuretic and full of bitter tannins. It will make you want to piss and also stimulate digestion, moving everything along.

Tobacco’s mechanism relating to the bowels I do not know about other than that I intimately know about it. Nicotine for me is directly tied to my defecatory processes.

I’m not sure how capsaicin directly effects digestion, but I imagine it’s a similar but more extreme reaction to the bitterness. As bitterness could be a poison, the digestive system activates, ready to purge. Capsaicin could be interpreted by the body as poison, so maybe it acts similarly.

But if you had enough bitterness to provide a similar *painful* sensation in your mouth to chilli, it is entirely possible that your body would attempt to reject the bitterness like it does the spiciness.

TL;DR Don’t drink too much red wine at a Mexican restaurant.