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ode to coffee - its benefits to gut health

In January of this year (2018) when I received my first set of Viome (gut sequencing with food recommendations) results, my recommendations put coffee on my no-no list. Say whaaaaaa? It shouldn't have been a surprise, since 23andme.com had already clued me in to the fact that I don't process caffeine efficiently (see screen shot from my 23andme.com genetic report below).

23andme report on caffeine

The problem with those two bits of information is that I love coffee and based on studies, know that it can provide beneficial substances that can decrease depression and feed good gut bugs. Observe:

"Most polyphenols pass through the small intestine without being absorbed, thus encountering the gut microbiota which colonizes the colon [8]. This has led to the development of a two-way mutual reaction between polyphenolic compounds and gut microbiota. First, polyphenols are biotransformed into their metabolites by gut microbiota that results in the increased bioavailability of polyphenols. Second, polyphenols modulate the composition of the gut microbial community mostly through the inhibition of pathogenic bacteria and the stimulation of beneficial bacteria. In the latter, they may act as a prebiotic metabolite and enrich the beneficial bacteria [9]. Therefore, the interactions of dietary polyphenols and gut microbiota may result in impact on human host health." [source]

Cup of coffee

Turns out coffee may be the most-consumed source of prebiotics (food for good gut buddies) in the world. So, what to do when your genetics (or other issues, such as adrenal fatigue) are working against your enjoyment of a morning cup of joy? Just go decaf. There's no shame in it, and shame on anyone who tells you otherwise. Although I love my decaf, I can often handle a half-caf and don't feel any negative impact from the small amount of caffeine. I like to have a little, since caffeine helps with fat burning, and I could use more of that! [source]

Don't enjoy the taste of coffee? Don't load it full of anti-nutrients like sugar to make it palatable. Try different roasts (just make sure your coffee is always organically grown; pesticide resides should not be an intentional part of our diet). I don't like dark roasts - they taste burnt to me. I'm a huge fan of light roasts (be mindful that light roasts are higher in caffeine than dark roasts). I don't need sweetener, but I'm a big fan of heavy cream (organic, preferably grass-fed) and MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil) in my coffee. Be sure you're brewing properly as well. I grind my coffee beans fresh and brew in a Chemex with filtered water at 200F. The details really do matter!

Coffee still not doing it for ya? Simply try black, white or green teas instead. You'll still be getting prebiotic benefits. Still not into it? Herbal teas are getting more and more press for their phytonutrient benefits. To me, they need no sweeteners to make them delish, but if you need some, try a tiny amount of maple syrup, or if you're low carb, try Swerve (an erythritol-based sweetener available at Natural Grocers or on Amazon).

Finally, coffee and teas can replace some unhealthy habits like soda (pop, cola) or other sugary drinks. I find it more pleasant to drink herbal teas throughout the day rather than just plain water which leads me to staying better hydrated (always a challenge for me!). Enjoy a cuppa today!


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