Does Coffee Impact the Microbiome?

I am often asked about the impact of coffee on digestive health and the microbiome. The truth is that coffee can effect the microbiome both positively and negatively. So, here is a summary on what the research has to say and a bit about my personal experience. You should be able to weigh the benefits and make a decision in alignment with your own health and wellness. 

1.) As you may well know already, Coffee stimulates smooth muscle contractions, facilitating motility. This occurs with both decaf and regular coffee. Some may find this side-effect helpful – though it does not address the root cause of slow motility.

2.) May block Stomach Acid Production: One of the coffee components, N-methylpyridium (NMP), seems to block the ability of the stomach cells to produce hydrochloric acid. This is a big negative for those working on healing leaky gut, Candida, SIBO, IBS, dysbiosis and malabsorption.

3.) Reduces B Vitamins: Compared with coffee abstainers, individuals drinking ≥4 cups/day had lower plasma concentrations of folate, pyridoxal phosphate, and riboflavin, which resulted in higher Homocysteine levels. High Homocysteine is correlated with CVD, Diabeties, Obesity and more.

4.) Results are mixed as to whether coffee is antimicrobial or probiotic. One study found that growth of bacteria and other microbes in fecal matter was suppressed with a solution of 1.5% coffee, and growth of microbes was even lower with a 3% solution of coffee.

Another found that the polyphenols in coffee upregulated populations of Clostridia, Lactobacillus and Lactococcus. 

5.) Quality makes a difference: Instant coffees contained elevated quantities of the cancerous compound Acrylamide. Poorly processed coffee is high in mold. Look for wet processed coffee, organic and chemical free.
6.) Caffiene triggers hormones in our Sympathetic Nervous System – ie. fight or flight response. Those working on healing chronic illness or gut imbalances may find that they already have issues with Cortisol or Adrenaline imbalances. In this case, its best to avoid until things settle. I highly recommend doing the Dutch hormone panel or checking for genetic SNP’s if you find that caffiene makes you anxious and uncomfortable. Drop me a line if you’d like to do the Dutch!
In addition, our stress hormones directly feed back onto our microbiome. Our GIT even contains stress hormone receptors. Our microbes sense and react to stress hormone production.
7.) Besides digestive health, studies have found that coffee can help to prevent CVD, Diabetes Type 2 and Alzheimers. 
☕️ What can we take away from this? Likely, that moderation is key and avoiding it while working on issues such as low stomach acid, anxiety, digestive issues or hormone imbalance would be beneficial. Take B-Vitamins such as Thorne B-Complex #6 to replenish Vitamins post coffee!
🍵 My personal experience is that caffiene would exacerbate symptoms of hormone imbalance, lowering the quality of my sleep and making me feel anxious or grumpy. If I’m not careful about quality I will break out in a rash due to the mold content.As my health has improved I will occasionally include a cup here or there of good quality mold free coffee such as Bulletproof Brand Coffee. Blending the coffee with butter or coconut oil can create a sustained release of the caffiene, which is less stimulating for the Nervous System.
If you find that coffee is a trigger for you, you would likely benefit from doing the Dutch Hormone Test. A 5 point panel showing your stress and sex hormone rhythms over the course of a day. Additionally, one could utilize 23&me to find out whether they have a genetic SNP that results in greater difficulty breaking down coffee.

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