Snack Size Science: Coffee stirs up gut health promise

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Snack Size Science: Coffee stirs up gut health promise

Related tags Snack size science Gut flora

NutraIngredient’s Snack Size Science brings you the week's top science. This week we spill the beans on the potential of coffee to boost levels of beneficial bacteria in our guts.

The following is a transcript of this podcast:

This is NutraIngredients’s Snack Size Science​. I’m Stephen Daniells - bringing you the week’s top science in digestible amounts.

This week we plunge into the world of gut friendly coffee. Now if the coffee from the machine in your office is anything like we have here, then a feeling of queasiness usually follows drinking. But now Nestle scientists report that coffee may actually boost the growth of certain bacteria in your gut associated with health benefits.

With the European instant coffee market currently valued at an eye-opening eight billion dollars it may not be in need of a pick-me-up, but scientists from the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland could have provided just that.

The researchers spilled the beans on their study in the International Journal of Food Microbiology. They report that drinking a few cups of instant a day may produce a micro-floral bloom of Bifidobacteria in the gut, a group of bacteria reputed to have beneficial effects.

The three-week study involved 16 healthy adult volunteers drinking three cups of coffee a day, which is double the global average of one and a half cups a day, but slightly less than the US average of more than three and a half cups.

While the brew has already been reported to cut the risks of certain diseases, especially of the liver and diabetes, it may be too early to hail coffee as a prebiotic. Lead researcher Rodrigo Bibiloni told me they have only shown a bifido-boosting effect, and not a health benefit associated with this, so we can’t consider coffee or its constituents as a prebiotic just yet.

Another unknown is which of the components in coffee may be behind the bacteria friendly effect, but there is plenty of evidence that both fibre and chlorogenic acids found in the drink may be metabolised by the gut microbiota.

If future studies back up the benefits of the bean, it could cause a real stir in gut health circles.

For NutraIngredients’ Snack Size Science​, I’m Stephen Daniells.

To read our full coverage of this study, please click here​.

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