And nope, it’s not the caffeine!
As any coffee drinker knows, there are many benefits to knocking back a cup (or four) of joe on a daily basis – you can keep up with your kids, it’s yummy, the smell of it gives you life.
Also, it keeps your intestines awfully regular.
The reason for the last side effect of drinking coffee is a bit of a mystery, but, according to a new study presented at Digestive Disease Week, we’re pretty sure what it’s not: the caffeine. Instead, scientists are entertaining the idea that it’s because of coffee’s relationship with the colonies of microbes living in our guts and its ability to influence the contractions of our smooth muscles.
ie: Two things that help us poop regularly. Which, if you ask me, definitely counts as a benefit.
The study was done on rats, not humans, but the findings were interesting enough to share, according to lead author Xuan-Zheng Shi.
“When rats were treated with coffee for three days, the ability of the muscles in the small intestine to contract appeared to increase. Interestingly, these effects are caffeine-independent, because caffeine-free coffee had similar effects as regular coffee.”
The results were achieved by mixing coffee power with hot water and exposing it to rat poop in Petri dishes. They found the growth of bacteria and other microbes (good or bad is still up for debate) was suppressed – the higher the coffee concentration, the more suppression. Another study found ingesting coffee helped the rats contract their lower intestines and colons more efficiently.
Together…those were some healthy-pooping rats.
Researchers hope their findings could help doctors treat constipation after surgery, with a number of studies finding that patients who drank water instead of coffee were able to return to normal bowel movements more quickly after undergoing even colon or abdominal surgery.
Coffee has also been found to improve liver function and lead to longer life spans, though it has its negative points, too (I choose to ignore them), like insomnia, nervousness, irritability, and so on.
More research is needed to prove the connection between coffee and a healthy gut in humans, of course, but I’m looking forward to having more reasons than ever to keep on sipping!