58% of Brits have experienced gut problems at some point in their life, with 45% saying that their issues have lasted three months or longer.
So, as shown by the 83% increase in Google searches for ‘gut health’ in the last year or so, it is no surprise that more and more people are trying to prioritise the well-being of their gastrointestinal tract.
Having a healthy gut comes with a wide range of positives, helping you digest food efficiently, preserve your immune system, and keep your brain health in check. And as well as gut-friendly foods such as wholemeal bread, fruit, veg, oats, and brown rice, there is an unexpected friend that can run to your aid: coffee.
From providing nutrients for good bacteria to helping you go to the toilet more regularly, coffee has a number of benefits to improve your gut health and overall well-being.
Beanies, an expert in flavoured coffee, explores how this much-loved beverage can favour your gut’s wellness while suggesting the perfect dose and when you should opt for a decaffeinated alternative.
How does coffee favour gut health?
Coffee has been linked to a long list of health benefits, including its well-known ability to boost your energy levels and fine-tune your concentration.
But, as mentioned, drinking coffee can play an important role in protecting the correct functioning of your guts too.
Here is why you shouldn’t think twice before brewing your favourite espresso, decaf, or flavoured coffee.
Stimulates bowel movement
Coffee is a natural stimulant that can favour bowel movements due to its laxative effects. So, if you experience constipation from time to time, brewing a cuppa can help.
Lucy Ward, Marketing Manager at Beanies, explained: “Drinking coffee can increase muscle contractions in your colon in four minutes, in turn triggering the urge to rush to the loo.
“Bear in mind that its gut-stimulating effect is usually stronger in the morning. Why? Because the body’s process of emptying the stomach, as well as your colon contractions, are slower when you’re asleep.
“As you wake up and get moving, so does your colon – pair that with the effects of a cup of coffee, and the urge to sit on the porcelain will be quite significant!”
Increases gastric motility
In this respect, by stimulating muscles in the digestive tract, coffee can promote gastric motility.
This means that it can speed up the transit of food and nutrients through the digestive system, reducing the risk of bloating and stomach ache.
Interestingly, coffee can stimulate motility in the colon as much as cereals and 60% more than a glass of water, helping reduce the development of chronic constipation.
Keeps your gut microbiome healthy
The gut microbiome is made up of bacteria that can have either a helpful or detrimental impact on our well-being.
In a healthy body, these microbes coexist without causing any health problems. However, if there is a disturbance in this balance, the harmful bacteria can lead to unwanted diseases and illnesses.
The good news is that consuming coffee can have a positive effect on your gut microbiome.
In fact, it has been found that the microbiome of people who regularly drink coffee is way healthier than that of those who consume it in small doses or none at all.
This is because coffee tends to lower the levels of Erysipelatoclostridium, a bacterial genus that is potentially quite harmful to our overall health.
Enhances bile production
Coffee consumption is also associated with an increase in bile production, which is essential for breaking down fats, absorbing vitamins, and ensuring smooth digestion.
Bile is also important for removing toxins, metabolic waste, and all those other components the body can’t use.
In short, by consuming coffee on a regular basis and promoting the production of bile, you should be able to benefit from improved digestion and a healthier gut environment.
How much coffee is too much?
Coffee and caffeine have a large number of perks, keeping you energised throughout the day and making sure your gut health is on point.
But as with all things, balance is key. Even if you are working long hours or need to pull off an all-nighter to revise for your exam, don’t fall into the trap of drinking excessive amounts of coffee.
Consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is considered to be safe for most healthy adults. Roughly, 400mg of caffeine equates to four cups of brewed coffee – so anything within that limit should be fine, allowing you to enjoy all its handy positives.
That said, there may be situations where people might have to keep a closer eye on caffeine levels, meaning that decaf coffee could act as a better option.
For example, pregnant women should limit their coffee intake to no more than 200mg of caffeine per day. This is because high doses of caffeine can have a negative impact on the pregnancy and on the baby.
Moreover, some individuals may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, leading to digestive issues such as acid reflux or diarrhoea.
Constant diarrhoea, specifically, is one of the most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a life-long condition that affects the digestive system.
So switching to a decaf alternative can help you enjoy the unmistakable taste of coffee without aggravating specific health problems.