Ground, bean, pod or capsule, coffee is one of the most consumed drinks in the world. However, is this drink beneficial or harmful to health, especially to the gut microbiota?
Astrid Nehlig, research director at INSERM*, has carried out a review of the scientific literature published in Nutrients, on the impact of coffee on the gastrointestinal tract. No less than 194 publications were analyzed!
In this article, we will only focus on its beneficial effects on digestion and the intestinal microbiota.
Coffee to help you digest
According to Astrid Nehlig’s findings, moderate coffee consumption (3 to 5 cups per day according to EFSA**) would facilitate digestion.
The data examined in the study indicate that the beverage stimulates:
- Gastric secretions. Indeed, the polyphenols contained in coffee stimulate the secretion and production of gastrin and hydrochloric acid, which contribute to the food degradation process;
- Biliary secretions. Coffee promotes the secretion of cholecystokinin, a hormone that stimulates the function and contractility of the gallbladder and increases bile production;
- Pancreatic secretions. The cholecystokinin secreted is also capable of stimulating the release of enzymes from the pancreas to digest lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates.
In addition, this drink acts on the colonic motility. Its consumption improves transit and defecation, which limits the risk of chronic constipation.
Another important point is that the drink does not have any harmful effects on the various organs of the digestive tract.
What is the impact on the gut microbiota?
This review also highlights the effects of coffee on the gut microbiota. Indeed, coffee modulates the microbial composition of the microbiota thanks to the insoluble polysaccharides it contains. These fibres are rapidly metabolised into short-chain fatty acids and cause an increase of up to 60% in the levels of the Bacteroides/Prevotella bacterial groups in the faeces of Arabica consumers.
Furthermore, the review results state that this beverage significantly increases Bifidobacteria, a bacterial group with numerous health benefits.
So don’t feel guilty about drinking coffee! It has a positive effect on your microbiota and your digestive health. However, consume it in moderation.
*INSERM: National Institute for Health and Medical Research
**EFSA: European Food Safety Authority