There has long been a connection between coffee, caffeine, and quickened bowel movements but researchers presented at Digestive Disease Week explained that while long believed to be the case, caffeine might not play as significant a role as expected.
The study consisted of feeding coffee to rats, as well as mixing it with gut bacteria in petri dishes, but found that coffee actually suppressed bacteria and increased muscle motility, regardless of the caffeine content.
“The study found that growth of bacteria and other microbes in fecal matter in a petri dish was suppressed with a solution of 1.5% coffee, and growth of microbes was even lower with a 3% solution of coffee. Decaffeinated coffee had a similar effect on the microbiome,” explained the study. “After the rats were fed coffee for three days, the overall bacteria counts in their feces were decreased, but researchers said more research is needed to determine whether these changes favor firmicutes, considered “good” bacteria, or enterobacteria, which are regarded as negative.”
“When rats were treated with coffee for three days, the ability of the muscles in the small intestine to contract appeared to increase,” said Xuan-Zheng Shi, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor in internal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston during the presentation. “Interestingly, these effects are caffeine-independent, because caffeine-free coffee had similar effects as regular coffee.”
“The results support the need for additional clinical research to determine whether coffee drinking might be an effective treatment for post-operative constipation, or ileus, in which the intestines quit working after abdominal surgery,” the authors said according to the press release.—Edan Stanley