Coffee naturally contains polyphenols - a type of micronutrient. Growing research indicates that health concerns such as metabolism, weight, diabetes, and chronic diseases may be impacted positively by the consumption of polyphenols (Cory et al, 2018). The key reason being that polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Coffee is one of the most polyphenol-rich beverages consumed worldwide, containing 214mg of total polyphenols per 100 ml (Tressera-Rimbau et al, 2015). Although polyphenols are found naturally in coffee, Exhale coffee is different in that the polyphenol content is maximised and measured along the processing chain. Additionally, polyphenols can be present in a food or drink, but the absorption rate can vary based on a number of factors. Theobromine (a compound present in coffee) may enhance the absorption of polyphenols in the intestine (González et al, 2020).
Your microbiome is even affected by coffee intake! ZOE’s PREDICT studies found a very strong correlation between drinking coffee and the composition of the gut microbiome. "We noticed that people who drank coffee tended to have higher microbiome diversity." (ZOE, 2022). Another 2020 study concluded that coffee appears to be associated with changes to the microbiota, due to the polyphenol content and presence of caffeine (González et al, 2020).
But why is your microbiome important? The human microbiome is composed of communities of bacteria (and viruses and fungi) that have greater complexity than the human genome itself (Amon et al, 2017). The microbiome comprises bacteria which are both beneficial and potentially harmful, and in and in a healthy body, pathogenic and symbiotic microbiota coexist without problems (Harvard Nutrition Source, 2022). We are still in the early stages of understanding the microbiome, but we do know that a diverse set of bacteria is a positive thing! Our microbiome helps us digest food, protect against disease, produce vitamins, and so much more, hence why it’s super important to our overall health and wellbeing. You may have heard of the gut-brain axis, a communication system which links cognitive centres in the brain to intestinal functions (Carabotti et al, 2015). It is thought that the gut microbiome has an important role to play in psychological functions, not just physical! Our mental state can impact our gut health and vice versa, with the gut and brain talking to each other via signalling molecules.
Aside from the microbiome, coffee may positively impact the gut in more ways than one. Coffee has the ability to boost motility (movement through the bowels) when experiencing constipation (Dr Ruscio, 2021). This is because caffeine can stimulate the muscles in our digestive system. If you are someone who gets diarrhoea or even anxiety from caffiene, Exhale’s decaf has all the polyphenols of their regular coffee so you’re still not missing out.
Overall, the research we have to date suggests that coffee is excellent for gut health and because good gut health is so important for good physical and mental health, we really need to be taking good care of our microbial friends.
Sophie Medlin, Specialist Dietitian
Cory H, Passarelli S, Szeto J, Tamez M, Mattei J. The Role of Polyphenols in Human Health and Food Systems: A Mini-Review. Front Nutr. 2018 Sep 21;5:87. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2018.00087. PMID: 30298133; PMCID: PMC6160559
Anna Tresserra-Rimbau, Alexander Medina-Remón, Ramon Estruch, Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventós, Chapter 42 - Coffee Polyphenols and High Cardiovascular Risk Parameters, Coffee in Health and Disease Prevention, Academic Press,2015,
ZOE PREDICT (https://joinzoe.com/post/coffee-gut-health)
González S, Salazar N, Ruiz-Saavedra S, Gómez-Martín M, de Los Reyes-Gavilán CG, Gueimonde M. Long-Term Coffee Consumption is Associated with Fecal Microbial Composition in Humans. Nutrients. 2020 May 1;12(5):1287. doi: 10.3390/nu12051287.
The Connection Between Coffee & Gut Health https://drruscio.com/coffee-and-gut-health/
Amon P, Sanderson I What is the microbiome? Archives of Disease in Childhood - Education and Practice 2017;102:257-260.
The Nutrition Source, Harvard Health https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/
Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr-Jun