Experts have busted some common myths about the impact of on digestion and the gastrointestinal tract. Whether you prefer an espresso or latte, many of us can't face the day without caffeine.
But while moderate consumption is classified as safe, coffee remains a debated topic in relation to bowel or digestive problems.
Yet, in light of the release of a new review which reported that coffee may have some useful effects for health, including an association with improved levels of microflora in the gut, Dr Astrid Nehlig of the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee has busted some common myths about the popular beverage.
Drinking coffee in moderation (three to five cups per day) helps to stimulate the , particularly the digestive hormone gastrin and hydrochloric acid present in gastric juice, both of which may help the breakdown of food in the stomach.
"Additionally, coffee stimulates the secretion of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that increases the production of bile, a fluid that breaks down fats taken into the body by the digestive tract," she said.
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Most food and drink stimulate movement in the large intestine, as part of the digestive process.
"Coffee may stimulate motility in the colon as much as cereals, 23 per cent more than decaffeinated coffee or 60 per cent more than a glass of water and it may be linked to a reduced risk of chronic constipation," noted Dr Nehlig.
There is no conclusive research to suggest that drinking coffee on an empty stomach can cause negative effects on the digestion process.
"However, there is growing evidence reporting that the beverage may offer a protective effect against some digestive disorders, including an association with a potentially reduced risk of gallstones and pancreatitis, although more research is still needed," the expert explained.
Previous studies have shown that the polyphenols present in coffee can induce positive changes in the composition of the gut microbiota.
"This is mainly at the population level of Bifidobacteria, considered to be 'good bacteria'. A microflora can help to protect against infections, support the immune system and contribute to healthy digestion," shared Dr Nehlig.
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The main component of coffee is water.
"In fact, black coffee contains more than 95 per cent water. Although there is significant interest in whether drinking coffee is associated with dehydration, finds that drinking coffee in moderation actually contributes to overall fluid intake, and does not lead to dehydration or significant loss of body fluid," she added.