We all love a hot cup of coffee every morning, especially during winters. Now, a scientific review has suggested that the beverage has a stimulating effect on some digestive processes. The review has been supported by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC). It suggests that coffee has a possible protective effect against common digestive complaints such as gallstones as well as certain liver diseases.
The review highlighted that moderate coffee consumption does not have harmful effects on the various organs of the digestive tract. The most interesting finding of the research is the association between coffee and a reduced risk of gallstones. The review also linked coffee consumption with a reduced risk of pancreatitis, however, more research is needed.
The review also indicated the protective effect of coffee against liver diseases. The included hepatocellular carcinoma – one of the most common types of liver cancer.
Despite the evidence to suggest coffee consumption may support the first stages of digestion, most data did not support the finding that coffee had a direct effect on gastro-oesophageal reflux. Instead, this is a combined or additive effect of other risk factors such as obesity and a poor diet.
Coffee has these main impacts on the gastrointestinal tract:
- Coffee is associated with gastric, biliary, and pancreatic secretions. They all are very important for the digestion of food. Coffee was found to stimulate the production of the digestive hormone gastrin which is helpful in breaking down food in the stomach.
- Coffee also stimulated the secretion of cholecystokinin, a hormone that increases the production of bile, also involved in the digestion.
- The beverage is also associated with changes in the composition of gut microbiota.
- Studies have shown changes in the composition of the gut microbiota with the consumption of coffee.
- Coffee is also associated with colon motility, the process by which food travels through the digestive tract. Data suggests that drinking coffee may stimulate motility in the colon as much as in cereals.