Dietitian Bianca Maree Harrington hits us with the science behind why coffee can help get your gut health back on track.
“Coffee and gut health” are perhaps two words you wouldn’t expect to read in one sentence, however, your morning brew could actually be beneficial for you and the community of bacteria living in your gut.
Why? Because coffee consumption (in moderation) has been linked with an increase in the diversity or balance of your gut bacteria, which is a good thing for you, your gut health and your overall wellbeing.
This community of bacteria that live inside your gut are known as the gut microbiome – an area of great interest in the science, health and wellness industries over the past decade, and for good reason.
Your gut microbiome plays numerous vital roles in the human body and supports important bodily systems like our digestive, immune and nervous system. Specifically, the gut microbiome can assist with reducing inflammation, improve our gut barrier function, support blood sugar management and assist with managing appetite.
As gut bacteria play such important roles that influence our overall health, we need to know how to take care of them. How do we do this? What we eat is vital to fueling the activities of our gut bacteria. Beneficial bacteria that live in our guts typically consume prebiotics, which are undigested parts of fibre that are found in a wide variety of plant-based foods.
Originating from plants, coffee beans contain a type of prebiotics called polyphenols which have been linked to many health benefits. This includes supporting your heart health and lowering the risk of developing both cancer and diabetes.
Polyphenols are also found in foods such as berries, cacao, tea, red wine, spices and vegetables. Coffee beans contain soluble fibre which helps to promote regularity and healthy stool.
When enjoying your morning brew and the subtle buzz it gives you, try adding in a plant-based milk for additional prebiotics and limit your use of artificial sweeteners.
Drinking your coffee with almond or soy milk will give you an added boost of gut fuel and you can focus on natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup if you want a sweeter brew.
Early stage research has looked at the link between artificial sweeteners and the development of metabolic syndrome and obesity.
More research is needed at this stage to fully understand the link, but it’s thought that artificial sweeteners alter the human gut microbiome in at-risk individuals, placing them at a higher risk of developing these conditions. We believe that natural is best.
No need to give up your morning coffee, rather you can focus on consuming high-quality beans and drinking your brew black or with plant-based milks and natural sweeteners to give your gut bacteria a good start for the day
If you’re someone who finds coffee irritates your stomach or you have a predisposition toward anxiousness or adrenal fatigue you may need to limit or stop your consumption. Speak to a healthcare professional for more advice personal to your situation.
Bianca Maree Harrington is an experienced dietitian with more than seven years of experience working with clients on their nutrition needs and goals. Her personal approach makes her a valuable leader in the Insight™ Microbiome Coach team. Bianca has an expertise in the field of both Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.