Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Coffee may boost gut health

Moderate consumption of coffee may be good for your digestion because of the healthy bacteria growth that it promotes.

Consuming three cups of instant coffee a day for three weeks resulted in increased populations of Bifidobacterium ( healthy bacteria) according to findings published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.

Bifidobacterium are associated with a lower incidence of allergies and also prevents some forms of tumor growth . Some bifidobacteria are used as probiotics and are among the friendly microorganisms that have been shown to alleviate symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

Researchers recruited 16 healthy adult volunteers aged between 21 and 57 and a BMI of between 20 and 30 kg/m2 (nine women), and assigned them to drink three cups of coffee per day for three weeks. The volunteers consumed a restricted diet for three weeks prior to the coffee period, during which they did not consume any yogurt,probiotics , fermented milk, or whole grain products...foods which can also promote bifdobacterium growth.

Intestinal contents collected before and after the coffee consumption period showed that the populations of dominant bacteria were not significantly affected. However, numbers of Bifidobacterium increased, with the greatest increases amongst people with lower initial bifidobacterial populations.

In fact subjects showed an increased metabolic activity for bifidobacterial species after consuming the coffee for three weeks.

Although these results cannot be directly related to the consumption of coffee it suggests that the consumption of coffee may prove useful for increasing bifidobacterial numbers which in turn can improve overall digestive health

The study found that coffee consumption increased Bifidobacterium in the gut, but scientists are still not sure which components of coffee are responsible for this increase.

We do know that coffee, and the caffeine it contains, is also associated with beneficial effects on mental and physical performance.

In the past coffee has been villainized as the bad guy, but in recent years several human research studies have shown that coffee consumption does not increase the risk of developing diseases such as specific types of cancer, like liver and colon, cirrhosis, Parkinson’s disease and type-2 diabetes.

This is all great news to me because I love my coffee and now I can rest assured that it isn’t bad for me, and in fact has many positive health benefits. Although with my current menopausal tendency to have hot flashes and night sweats, I tend to stay away from hot coffee in the evening. Hot beverages especially those containing caffeine will increase night sweats. For me it’s best to stick with the morning hot coffee and then ice coffee in the afternoons.

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