Here's how drinking coffee can actually improve your health

Thanks to a new myth-busting review, we now know how our favorite caffeinated drink keeps us in good health

Woman drinking coffee on a park bench
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many of us enjoy a morning coffee, though some people suggest that our favorite caffeinated drink isn't so good for us. But when enjoyed in moderation, a new review has found that coffee may help boost your digestive health.

We know it's a good idea to keep one of the best water bottles for the gym handy to stay hydrated, but coffee is most people's drink of choice during work hours. The perception is that it can wreak havoc with our stomachs, but that's not so, according to a recent review of previous research published in the journal Nutrients. After analyzing almost 200 papers, the team found that coffee consumption increases 'good' gut bacteria, protects against liver disease, and stimulates digestion.

The team assessed 197 publications with data about coffee's effect on the digestive system and related medical conditions. One fascinating topic was gastric emptying, or the urgent need to go to the toilet.

This is often quoted as one of coffee's unpleasant side effects, but it turns out it might be a myth after all. After looking at the research, the review found that coffee produces chemicals to promote digestion, but it doesn't speed up your need to poop.

Two people holding coffee cups

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Because it aids the digestive system, Astrid Nehlig, one of the review's authors, noted that "coffee has a protective effect against common digestive complaints such as constipation."

The analysis highlighted that coffee drinking might even be improving your overall wellbeing. Some studies found that Arabica coffee helped develop good gut bacteria, which are crucial in maintaining gut health.

It seems to be all good news for coffee lovers, but how much do you need to drink to get these health-boosting effects? Across the research, it appears that moderate consumption of between three and five cups per day is about right.

Of course, there are other ways to promote better digestion, like focusing on how to eat healthily. Planning your meals, sticking to a balanced diet, and cooking from scratch all help your stomach, and protect your physical and mental health.

The best vegan cookbooks are a great place to look for home-cooking inspiration. While many people have taken up the month-long Veganuary challenge, you don't have to go fully vegan to enjoy plant-based meals a few times a week.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.