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One Major Effect Coffee Has On Your Gut, Says Science

Your morning cup of java does more than just perk you up.

In more recent years, it's become apparent that the health of your gut is essential for quality of life. Keeping a diverse gut microbiome means maintaining a healthy level of microbes and bacteria in your gut that assist with your digestive tract, which decreases your risk of developing diseases, boosts your immune system, and even improves your cognitive and mental health.

Funny enough, research has also shown that drinking coffee can also provide some of those same benefits. Coffee has been proven to lower the risk of disease and improve cognitive and mental health, among other things. So could the two be somehow connected?

While research is still new in linking coffee and gut health, studies do show that the antioxidant content in coffee can modify the gut microbiome in a positive way.

One study in Nutrients evaluated the gut microbiota of three categories of coffee drinkers—non-coffee consumers, moderate consumers (3 to 45 milliliters a day), and high-coffee consumers (45 to 500 milliliters a day). They found the health of the gut environment could be linked to the polyphenols found in coffee—a type of antioxidant known to have protective effects against chronic diseases such as obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

A presentation at ​​the American College of Gastroenterology's 84th Annual Scientific Meeting also pointed out the benefits of coffee on the gut microbiome and concluded that participants who drank two or more cups of coffee a day exhibited healthier gut microbiomes compared to those who drank less coffee. While the reasoning behind this connection requires more research, the evidence is promising regarding the connection between coffee's polyphenol content and the diversity of the gut's microbiota.

The connection between polyphenols and gut microbiota is already well known. Another Nutrients review pointed out how dietary polyphenols can positively affect the gut microbiome's composition and function by fighting against pathogenic gut microflora, also known as the type of bacteria that can cause disease. Polyphenols are typically found in healthy foods—like fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate, and even red wine—and have been proven to benefit health due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, polyphenols are typically found in foods that contain prebiotics, which help to feed the good bacteria already in your gut.

So along with tossing some blueberries on your oatmeal (both beneficial for gut health), sipping on your morning cup of coffee can also ensure an even healthier gut for a long time to come.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten
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