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How coffee affects the gut
Anyone who drinks coffee regularly knows the effect: after the morning cup of coffee, the quiet place is first sought out. But is it really coffee that sets our digestion in motion? A current study dealt with this question.
A Texas research team recently investigated whether coffee actually has an effect on the gut. The scientists found two different ways coffee works on the intestine. On the one hand, coffee influences the composition of the intestinal flora and, on the other hand, it stimulates the muscles in the intestine to contract. The study results were recently presented in the specialist journal "Gastroenterology".
Coffee has a double effect on digestion
Although it has long been known that coffee promotes stool withdrawal, the specific reason or the underlying mechanism has not yet been clarified. A Texas research group has now been able to partially reveal the secret in laboratory experiments with rats. The researchers fed coffee to rats and examined the reaction to the intestine. In addition, they brought intestinal bacteria into contact with coffee and documented the results. As it turned out, coffee has two effects on the intestine. The caffeine content does not seem to play a role here.
Coffee stimulates the intestine to contract
"When rats were fed coffee for three days, the contractility of the muscles in the small intestine increased," study author Professor Xuan-Zheng Shi reports at the Digestive Disease Week. Interestingly, these effects were observed regardless of the caffeine content. Decaffeinated coffee had similar effects to those containing caffeine. The muscles in the lower intestine and large intestine also showed increased contractility after three days of coffee consumption.
Coffee as a therapy for constipation?
The observation was confirmed in further laboratory tests. The researchers brought the intestinal muscle tissue into direct contact with coffee, which prompted the tissue to contract. "Drinking coffee may be an effective treatment for constipation or bowel obstruction if the bowel stops working properly after an abdominal surgery," the research team suggests. However, this must first be checked in clinical studies.
How coffee affects our intestinal flora
Professor Xuan-Zheng Shi's team found another effect of coffee. According to the study, the composition of the intestinal bacteria in the feces of the rats changed. This was also confirmed when the researchers brought intestinal bacteria into contact with coffee in petri dishes. The growth of microorganisms in faeces with coffee solution decreased overall by three percent. According to the research team, it is currently unclear whether coffee also suppresses the "good" intestinal bacteria or only the enterobacteria, which can be responsible for disease processes. This must also be clarified in further studies.
How healthy is coffee?
Is coffee healthy or harmful to health? Many studies have dealt with this question in recent years. So much can be said in any case: coffee is healthier than most people think. The number of cups of coffee a day determines the health risk, another recently published study recognized. It is better not to drink more than six cups a day. (vb)