If you jump out of bed in the morning looking forward to "coffee, coffee, coffee" like coffee lover Lorelai Gilmore, you're doing your gut a favor. According to a new study presented at the Digestive Disease Week conference, science has gotten to the bottom of why coffee helps you poop, and why that's good news for your gut health overall. Turns out, even if you avoid coffee because caffeine makes you feel too bajiggity, the results found that decaf coffee is just as beneficial to gut health. In a study in rats, researchers found "that coffee suppressed bacteria and increased muscle motility, regardless of caffeine content."
Regular coffee drinkers already know that coffee helps them poop. This happens because coffee activates contractions in your colon and intestinal muscles, effectively moving things along to help keep you regular, according to Healthline. The new findings show coffee has even more benefits than giving you a morning pick me up and reducing constipation.
"The study found that growth of bacteria and other microbes in fecal matter in a petri dish was suppressed with a solution of 1.5% coffee, and growth of microbes was even lower with a 3% solution of coffee," a press release in Science Daily reported. So, if you've ever been shamed for drinking too much coffee, the joke is on the haters.
While the study noted that more research is needed to determine whether or not the bacteria being reduced is good bacteria or bad bacteria, other research indicates that coffee contributes to diverse gut microbiome. And the more diverse your gut microbiome, the stronger your immune system.
This is all great news, but why is coffee so magical? Part of the reason coffee might be good for your gut is because it contains fiber. In a paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that in some people, coffee contributes to healthy gut microbiome. "The most important message of this paper is that coffee's dietary fiber is really a good [food] for gut microflora," study leader author Mirko Bunzel told Science News.
If staying regular and maintaining gut health weren't reason enough to go ahead and treat yourself to that second (or third, or fourth) cup of coffee, a 2017 study presented by the European Society of Cardiology found that coffee drinkers may live longer. Researchers followed almost 20,000 people over a 10 year period and found that those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had a 64% lower risk of death than those who never drank coffee.
If you follow the line of reasoning that coffee contributes to healthy gut microbiome, which in turn promotes a strong immune system, it's no surprise that coffee drinks have an advantage over those who shun coffee. Healthy immune systems fight off and protect the body from disease. And people who are better able to fight off diseases live longer.
Case in point, a 2018 study published in Scientific Reports identified a correlation between gut microbiome and healthy aging. In a study on fruit flies, which are surprisingly similar to mammals, researchers found that probiotics helped the bugs live 26 days longer, which is pretty long for a fruit fly. Taking care of your gut health can also help reduce your chances of developing chronic inflammation, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and a host of other diseases.
While an all-coffee diet isn't going to do you any favors, making regular or decaf coffee a part of your daily routine has more benefits than not (in moderation, of course!). Brew on.