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Claudia Sozio
February 1, 2022

Review shows potential link between coffee and reduction in gallstones and liver disease

A new scientific review showcases the effects of coffee on the digestive tract and the human gut. The review, entitled Effects of coffee on the gastro-intestinal tract: a narrative review and literature update, reviewed 194 research publications, was published in Nutrients, and was backed by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC). Astrid Nehlig, Ph.D., Emeritus Research Director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research led the review.

“Contrary to some assumptions, coffee consumption is not overall linked to bowel or digestive problems,” Nehlig said. “In some instances, coffee has a protective effect against common digestive complaints such as constipation. Emerging data also indicates there may be an association with improved levels of gut bacterial groups such as Bifidobacteria which have recognized beneficial effects. Although additional data will be needed to understand coffee’s effects throughout the digestive tract, this is an extremely encouraging place to begin.”

The link between coffee and GI health

Other identified benefits include stimulating production of two major factors in the breakdown of food, the hormone gastrin and hydrochloric acid. The drink also increases the release of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which is associated with the production of bile.

Coffee also has a positive impact on colon motility. This process assists in moving food through the digestive tract. Data reviewed by Nehlig showed however that its effects can be greater than assumed. Coffee’s effect on colon motility is:

  • As impactful as cereal
  • 23-percent more than decaffeinated coffee
  • 60-percent more than a typical glass of water

While more research is needed, the review provides insight into coffee’s potential preventative measures against gallstones and pancreatitis. Early data also showed the potential for reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. This disease is one of the most common forms of liver cancer.

While some believe that coffee provided a negative effect on gastroesophageal reflux, data gathered from the review showed no direct correlation. Rather, coffee’s impact works in combination with other known risk factors such as obesity and poor diet.

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