Does Drinking Green or White Tea Make You Poop More?
Does Tea Make You Need to Visit "the Smallest Room" More Often?
One of the most common questions that people who start to drink green or white tea ask is – does it make you need to go to the toilet more?
And the reason that the question is so commonly asked is because the answer is YES! Both green and white tea can make you pee more. And, for some people (possibly most) they can make you poop more too. But this effect is very temporary, and should disappear within a few days.
The ‘problem’ – and it is not really a problem, as you will see – happens with lots of healthy foods and drinks. But first I'll take a quick look at something that is often (mistakenly) blamed for this effect that green and white tea has: CAFFEINE!
Why Does Caffeine Make You 'Go'?
One of the greatest lines in the movie Fight Club is when Jack says of his boss that he was drinking a 'Grande Latte Enema'. But why does coffee have this effect?
It's actually down to the caffeine. One scientific study found that caffeine led to an increase in pressure and strength of voluntary 'squeeze' in the anus, which is probably a bit too much information for some people, but is good to know to fill those awkward dinner party silences nonetheless. Here's the research abstract for this fascinating look at our sphincters and caffeine.
However! Green and white teas only contain a relatively small amount of caffeine, around 25-60mg per cup, whereas a regular cup of coffee contains anything up to around 180mg, depending on how it's brewed.
This is not to say that the caffeine in tea doesn't contribute to the effect of making you run to the loo when you drink a few cups, but it isn't the whole story.
So If It's Not the Caffeine, What Is It?
The same effect has been noted by people who start to eat masses of fruit and vegetables, and although this is often blamed on the fibre content of these foods, the initial purge-like effect is perhaps more to do with the antioxidants and other helpful molecules found in teas, fruits and veggies, that help our bodies flush out waste and toxins more efficiently.
White and green tea both contain a large amount of things like antioxidants, polyphenols, and catechins. These are very good for our health. The antioxidants bind to molecules called ‘free radicals’, which can cause untold damage to our bodies and are partly responsible, it is thought by researchers, for causing cancer and chronic diseases like heart disease and Alzheimers.
Another substance, called EGCG, helps the liver and kidneys work better at the mechanism whereby waste, and especially toxic waste like alcohol and environmental toxins, is flushed through our system. The catechins in tea, the substance that gives tea its 'bitter' taste, bind to toxins like metals that we absorb from our food and which can build up over time and cause chronic disease.
As all these helpful molecules begin to do this 'sweeping up' work, when you first start to drink tea (or eat a lot of fruit and veggies), quite a lot of waste will need to leave your body. Therefore, you might find that you need to pop to the loo quite a bit more often.
Fruit, especially fruit that is high in vitamin C, is notorious for the same effect. It is simply the waste and toxins leaving your body, and the side effect will go away when your body has cleared all that trash out of your system. A nicer side effect is that afterwards, your skin will be clearer, your eyes will be brighter, and your hair will be shinier and sleeker!
How Long Will It Last? And Will It Get Any Worse?
Let me be clear. If you lead – or used to lead – a very unhealthy life, and ate junk food, smoked, drank a lot of alcohol and didn’t exercise, then you might suffer from loose stools and frequent urination for a few days.
A week or two is not uncommon, although the severity should lessen considerably within the first week. If you are not terribly unhealthy when you start to eat fruit or drink tea, you might find that the symptom disappears within a couple of days.
Are You Sure This Is Because of the Green and White Tea?
Only you can decide that, really. Certainly, it should not cause any vomiting – and a combination of loose stool and vomiting, and especially if you have a high fever, is a sign of infection or food poisoning and is not because of tea.
If you are concerned at all or if you have any abdominal pain, or feel weak, it is not due to your tea-drinking habits, and you should consult a doctor.
But if it really is simply a case of needing to pop to the loo more often, it could be because you started to drink green or white tea. Cut back or stop for a few days, and return to it slowly if you want to avoid this little side effect.
However, there has been one documented case of a woman who got fluoride poisoning by drinking a gallon of cheap, iced, powdered green tea every day, which was made with the water from the well in her garden.
It seems likely that her poisoning occurred partly because she used water from her well, which was high in fluoride, and partly because she used cheap, powdered green tea that was quite high in fluoride, and partly because she was drinking way too much of the tea over a long period of time (months or even years).
Fluoride poisoning from green tea is very unlikely in most circumstances, but if you do have any concerns about this at all, buy high quality loose-leaf tea, and use filtered or bottled water to brew it.
Start Drinking Green or White Tea Slowly
If you are only just starting to drink either green or white tea, you should maybe consider starting slowly, and having about three cups a day or less, while the tea works its magical effects on your body, and starts to gently ‘flush out’ all of those toxins that have built up over time.