Previous research has found that drinking coffee can provide a growing list of health benefits, from protecting cognitive functioning to strengthening cardiovascular health. While these benefits may seem unrelated, new research has discovered that they may all be attributed to the way in which coffee affects the gut microbiome. A new study finds drinking more coffee boosts gut health, adding another option to the multitude of ways you can strive to naturally maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
New Research Finds Coffee Boosts Gut Health
The human gut microbiome is home to trillions of bacteria, and each person’s microbiome is different. A more diverse gut microbiome provides greater protection against illness, disease and infection. Since the foods and beverages we consume affect the diversity of the gut microbiome, it’s easy to see how a beverage like coffee could possibly affect our susceptibility to certain medical conditions. A study at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine sought to identify just how coffee affects the gut microbiome in order to learn more about how coffee benefits our health. Specifically, the study wanted to define how the caffeine in coffee interacts with the microorganisms in the gut.
The researchers, led by Dr. Dr. Li Jiao, recruited 34 participants for the research project and evaluated the health of their colons via endoscopy and colonoscopy exams. The subjects were also asked to complete a survey, which inquired about their diets and their coffee intake. From there, the researchers separated the subjects into two groups based on their coffee consumption. Those who drank coffee with the equivalent of 82.9 mg of caffeine or more per day were assigned to the high-coffee-consumption group, while those consuming up to 82.9 mg daily were determined to be low-consumption subjects.
Once the results were examined, the researchers found that those who drank larger quantities of coffee had a greater amount of the beneficial bacteria Faecalibacterium and Roseburia in their guts. The research team also found a higher presence of other beneficial bacteria. Additionally, the presence of a harmful bacteria, Erysipelatoclostridium, was found to be much lower. These results were found to be consistent regardless of age and the quality of the individual’s diet. Previously, Erysipelatoclostridium has been linked to metabolic syndrome. It boosts the levels of glucose and fat transporters in the small intestines, which increases the risk of obesity in individuals who eat poor diets.
The researchers concluded that drinking more coffee can help maintain a healthier and more diverse gut microbiome, while limiting the presence of harmful bacteria. This may explain why people who drink more coffee are better able to maintain healthier weights and achieve greater benefits when pursuing healthier lifestyles.
Coffee Provides Other Health Benefits
Prior to finding that coffee boosts gut health, it was discovered that drinking coffee helps people maintain healthier weight. The goal of the study on caffeine and fat targeted how caffeine affects the white fat (fat stored by the body) and brown fat (fat usually converted into usable energy) in the body. The researchers found that brown fat was stimulated by coffee consumption, although it remained unaffected by water consumption. While it couldn’t be determined whether the effects were due to the caffeine or another ingredient, the researchers are confident that the consumption of coffee does help burn fat. They hope to pinpoint the component responsible for the thermogenesis of brown fat with additional research.
In another study, scientists were looking for ways to use coffee bean husks to benefit human health, since the husks constitute a significant amount of waste in the coffee bean production process. The University of Illinois study found that the husks are not toxic to humans and, more astonishingly, they possess great antioxidant properties. They hope this will lead to treatments for obesity, because those antioxidants can attack the low-grade inflammation that occurs alongside obesity. Together with an increased concentration of fat in the body, that inflammation causes the body to become more insulin resistant, raising the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found that the protocatechuic acid and gallic acid, which were found in the coffee bean husks, helped to block fat accumulation in the cells. Additionally, these antioxidants reduced the release of inflammatory agents and lowered the level of oxidative stress in the cells. Although the research is new, the team hopes to continue to evaluate the possibility of using coffee byproducts to improve health. If future research confirms these findings, using coffee byproducts may provide more eco-friendly ways of improving human health.
Another study showed that drinking three or more cups of coffee a day could improve arterial health. Unfortunately, these health benefits were restricted to people who had never smoked cigarettes. For those non-smokers, arterial health was improved by 63 percent as a result of increasing coffee consumption. This is important, because poor arterial health raises the risks of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
How Can You Naturally Improve Your Gut Microbiome?
Your gut microbiome relies heavily on the foods you eat to maintain a diverse community of bacteria, which is why eating plant-based foods is so important. However, there are other lifestyle factors that can affect the diversity of your microbiome. Here are just a few ways you can improve the health of your gut.
Take a Probiotic Supplement
You can boost your gut function by adding a daily probiotic supplement to your routine. In addition to benefiting your gut microbiome, these supplements can also protect your intestinal health.
Living a stressful lifestyle has a range of adverse effects on your health. This includes disrupting the healthy functioning of the microorganisms in your gut. If you feel stressed, take time to meditate, read a book, or go for a walk.
Get More Exercise
Those who engage in more physical activity have healthier gut microbiomes, especially when their physical activity is accompanied by a healthier diet. While you should get a minimum 30 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity exercise daily, getting more will benefit your gut and overall health.
Getting enough quality sleep is also important for a healthy gut. If you’re not sleeping soundly through the night, reduce evening caffeine intake, buy more comfortable bedding and try to reduce late-night distractions.