Coffee is linked to a wide range of health benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, depression, and heart disease. A new analysis has revealed that coffee has a powerful effect on the digestive system as well.
In a study funded by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC), experts reviewed the latest studies on the link between coffee consumption and digestive health.
The results of the analysis suggest that drinking coffee helps lower the risk of certain digestive disorders like gallstone disease and pancreatitis. Coffee was also found to enhance certain aspects of the digestive process, such as gut motility, and stimulate digestion.
Study author Carlo La Vecchia is a professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health at the University of Milan.
“The effect of coffee on digestion is an evolving area of research,” said Professor Vecchia. “Data indicates benefits against common digestive complaints such as constipation, as well as a potential reduction in the risk of more serious conditions like chronic liver diseases from non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), gallstones, and related pancreatitis.”
Gallstone disease is a common digestive disorder caused by the accumulation of hardened deposits of digestive fluid in the gallbladder or bile duct.
Through a mechanism that has not yet been identified, coffee offers protection against gallstone disease. Experts have found that the risk of the condition is decreased as daily coffee consumption is increased.
According to the researchers, it is likely that caffeine plays a role in reducing the risk of gallstone disease because the effects were not observed among decaffeinated coffee drinkers.
Many studies have examined the potential for coffee to promote mild heartburn or more severe acid reflux. According to Professor Vecchia, the majority of studies did not produce significant evidence of a link between coffee and acid reflux.
The ISIC analysis also looked into research on the relationship between coffee and the gut microbiome. The review identified several recent studies which indicate that the beneficial gut bacteria Bifidobacterium spp. is boosted after drinking coffee.
Experts theorize that the dietary fiber and polyphenols in coffee support the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
The ISIC report not only highlights a number of relevant findings, but also provides insight into areas that demand further research to identify the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of coffee on the digestive system.
The research was funded by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC).
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer