If you suffer from a leaky gut and have wondered if drinking coffee is doing you more harm than good then read Chris Hill’s article.
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Coffee and Gut Health
Coffee is a popular drink that’s enjoyed by people all over the world. Apart from liking its flavor, many coffee drinkers also love the way the caffeine it provides helps perk them up and give them extra energy for the day.
Although the caffeine it contains often gets a bad rep, research shows coffee may offer several interesting health benefits. Some of them may surprise you:
- Reducing the risk of heart disease
- Protecting against diabetes
- Reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease
Some research suggests drinking coffee may also have the potential to offer protection from certain types of cancer.
That dark beverage we all know and love may also affect the gut microbiome. Although it’s other capabilities are interesting, it’s the relationship between coffee and gut health we are going to concentrate on here.
You may have already heard people speculating on the various ways coffee affects gut health. Perhaps that’s why you are reading this page. If so you may be wondering if the things you have heard can be backed up by facts.
Although some of the claims you may hear for coffee are likely to be untrue, some scientific literature suggests the beverage may benefit gut health.
Apart from (possibly) supporting a healthy gut microbiota, coffee also helps keep the bowels moving. It achieves this by boosting the motility of the smooth muscle in the gastrointestinal tract.
Gut Microbiota: A Quick Introduction
You may be surprised to learn the human body is host to around 10 trillion microorganisms including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. Many of them reside in the gastrointestinal tract. – more info here
The collection of microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract are known as the gut microbiota. When you begin taking an interest in probiotics, that’s a term you may encounter a lot.
The gut microbiota helps regulate many cellular functions. Some of the most important ones are energy metabolism, neuroendocrine response, and immune response.
As you will no doubt be aware, boosting probiotic bacteria levels can support good health in many different ways. However, when an imbalance occurs that changes things for the worse (dysbiosis), it can affect the health in undesirable ways. Some of them may surprise you.
Dysbiosis has been linked to:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
- Cardiovascular disease
The gut microbiota also plays a crucial role in helping you to absorb nutrients from food. It produces important enzymes and short-chain-fatty-acids as well.
When the gut microbiota falls out of balance, it can have far-reaching effects. Not only to the body but also to the mind.
How Coffee Affects Gut Health
Coffee isn’t just a drink that provides caffeine. It provides more than 1,500 additional active compounds as well.
Among other things, it has minerals, polysaccharides, phenolic polymers, and chlorogenic acid. You may already be familiar with the latter because it’s commonly used as a weight-loss aid. So, next time you look at a cup of coffee be aware there may be more going on than you think.
Coffee and Bowel Movement
Data from a number of clinical trials shows drinking coffee can help improve bowel movement.
The results of one study, conducted at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, England, are highly supportive of coffee’s ability in this regard.
Ninety-nine healthy volunteers took part. All of them completed questionnaires about the way their bowels responded when they were given black, unsweetened coffee or hot water.
Most of the participants said the coffee caused an increased desire to defecate. The hot water did not affect any of the volunteers in this way.
The researchers concluded “Drinking coffee can stimulate a motor response of the distal colon in some normal people.”
Another study, involving rats, provides an insight into the events going on inside the gut. The rats were given coffee for three days. Its presence in their bodies increased smooth muscle contraction in the small intestine and colon.
Constipation can have far-reaching effects. Especially when it persists for long periods of time. It can cause toxins to build up, encouraging disease and ill health. These toxins can also interfere with energy metabolism, leading to weight gain and fatigue.
With this in mind, anything that encourage healthy bowel movement can only be seen as a favorable thing.
Coffee and Gut Microbiota
Research shows the mannooligosaccharides in spent coffee grounds are capable of stimulating the growth of probiotic bacteria. Data from the same study shows the mannooligosaccharides also supported increases in short-chain fatty acids.
Although these things are favorable, the spent coffee grounds also provided 5-hydroxymethyl furfural and polyphenols. This is somewhat of an anti-climax because these compounds may inhibit probiotic growth.
The fact that that coffee grounds provide opposing compounds muddies the water and suggests a need for further study.
Other research shows coffee suppresses bacteria growth fecal matter in a dose-dependent way. Again, further research is necessary in order to evaluate the overall impact on the gut microbiome.
Coffee and Gut Health – In Summary
Research suggests coffee has a favorable effect on certain aspects of gut health but many things remain unclear. It is difficult to say if coffee can help repair a leaky gut.
Its ability to help keep the bowels moving can only be seen in a positive light. Constipation is a common problem that can present several health issues.
The process of passing unusually hard or large stools can cause hemorrhoids. In severe cases, the stools may also cause tiny tears to the soft anal tissues.
When people struggle with this type of issue for long periods of time it may also lead to stretching of the rectum, causing it to protrude from the anus
Although coffee is never going to have the power of laxative medications, it may offer some degree of help when consumed alongside a suitably fiber-rich diet. However, anyone suffering from chronic or persistent constipation should always make a doctor’s office their first point of call.
Unfortunately, the way coffee affects the gut microbiota is still pretty much a gray area. Research suggests certain compounds in coffee may nurture probiotic bacteria while others have the opposite effect. Hopefully, future research will provide a clearer insight into the things coffee can do.