A cup of joe and gut health: Is coffee bad for the probiotics in your gut?

When you take a probiotic supplement, it’s normal to want to maximize its benefits on your body. But does that mean you have to stop drinking coffee every morning?

Here are some things to consider if you need a cup of joe every morning but are also worried about your gut health.

What are probiotics?

Dr. Lea Ann Chen, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine and pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, defines probiotics as “living microbes that confer beneficial effects on their host.”

This means probiotics are “bacteria that support your gut health and function.” You can find probiotics in different things, from fermented foods to dietary supplements.

Probiotics can be important in various settings to help maintain a balanced gut microbiome. (Related: Study: People who drink coffee have lower risk of early death.)

Different factors can affect probiotics and gut health

Like other aspects of your health, lifestyle factors like your eating habits, stress reduction, good sleep habits, exercise habits and other factors can affect the composition of your gut microbiome. In turn, this can influence your well-being.

If you eat a lot of junk food or don’t get enough sleep, you may experience issues with the good probiotics in your gut.

To keep your gut health in check, eat a “diverse and healthy diet” that is plant-based and full of dietary fiber. You can also improve your gut health by avoiding overly processed foods full of added sugar and fat.

Is coffee bad for your gut health?

But is coffee bad for your gut health? The answer depends.


Dr. Zhaoping Li, a nutrition researcher, professor of medicine, and chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that drinking black coffee moderately may offer benefits for your gut health.

In a small study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers examined the gut microbiome samples taken during routine colonoscopies. The results revealed that those who consumed two or more cups of coffee daily throughout the previous year had better gut microbiome profiles than people who had less or no coffee.

Experts think that the chlorogenic acid in coffee may help increase the diversity in the gut microbiome. This may be one of the mechanisms “by which it can impact metabolism and provide health benefits.”

However, consuming too much coffee with a lot of added sugar and fat could be bad for your gut health. If you drink one or two cups of coffee regularly, make sure your beverage is low in sugar or has no sugar at all to maintain gut health.

As for coffee directly affecting the probiotics you consume, experts say it’s unlikely to cause an issue and that there is no sufficient data to suggest that coffee can harm the prebiotics in your gut.

Tips for promoting gut health

Fortunately, there are several ways to support a healthy gut. One of the best ways to have long-term sustainable equilibrium in your gut microbiome is to incorporate some important key lifestyle factors for your gut health program.

This includes following a diverse diet full of plant-based foods. Your intestines are home to hundreds of species of bacteria, each of which has a specific role in health and requires different nutrients for growth.

A diverse microbiome is generally considered a healthy one because the more species of bacteria you have, the more health benefits you may be able to contribute. If you eat different food types, you can help cultivate a more diverse microbiome.

But the typical Western diet is not very diverse and is full of fat and sugar. Data suggests that at least 75 percent of the world’s food is produced from only 12 plants and five animal species.

Yet, diets in certain rural regions are usually more diverse and richer in the different plant sources. Because of this, some studies have found that gut microbiome diversity is much greater in people who live in rural regions of Africa and South America compared to those from urban areas in Europe or America.

Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is also good for your gut health since produce is the best source of nutrients for a healthy microbiome.

Fruits and vegetables are full of dietary fiber, which your body can’t digest. But certain bacteria in your gut can digest fiber, and this stimulates their growth.

Beans and legumes are also full of fiber.

Here are some fiber-rich foods that are good for your gut bacteria:

  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Chickpeas
  • Green peas
  • Lentils
  • Raspberries
  • Whole grains

According to a study, following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevented the growth of some disease-causing bacteria.

Research also suggests that superfoods like almonds, apples, artichokes, blueberries and pistachios can all help increase Bifidobacteria in humans. This is good because Bifidobacteria are considered beneficial bacteria and they can help prevent intestinal inflammation and boost your gut health.

Fermented foods have undergone fermentation, a process wherein the sugars they contain are broken down by yeast or bacteria.

Healthy fermented foods include:

  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Yogurt

Many of these foods are full of lactobacilli, a type of bacteria that offers health benefits.

According to studies, people who eat a lot of yogurt seem to have more lactobacilli in their intestines. They also have fewer Enterobacteriaceae, which is a type of bacteria linked to inflammation and some chronic conditions.

Data also suggests that yogurt may help enhance the function and composition of the microbiome.

But like with coffee, many yogurts, especially flavored yogurts, are full of added sugar. To keep your gut healthy, choose plain, unsweetened yogurt or flavored yogurt with minimal added sugar and is made only of milk and bacteria mixtures or “starter cultures.”

When buying yogurt, look for products with a label that reads “contains live active cultures.”

You can also consume fermented soybean milk, which experts think may promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, while also decreasing quantities of other harmful strains of bacteria. Eating kimchi may also benefit your gut flora.

Aside from following a plant-based and diverse diet, you can also improve your gut health by avoiding processed foods. You should also exercise regularly and try to manage your stress levels.

Drinking coffee without added sugar and fat shouldn’t interfere with the probiotics in your gut.

The most important thing you can do to take care of your gut bacteria is to eat well. Experts also recommend taking a probiotic supplement to support and encourage a healthy gut microbiome.

Watch the video below to know more about the link between probiotics and athletic performance.

This video is from the Holistic Herbalist channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Study: Taking probiotics can help with post-infectious IBS.

It turns out, having a healthy gut can make you “fear less.”

Study: Eating foods with natural antimicrobial compounds can help shape your gut microbiota.

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