Coffee & the gut

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By The Gut Health Doctor Team

Dr Megan Rossi in a lab looking through a microscope

I’m a coffee lover and you do NOT need to cut it out altogether for good gut health!  Filtered coffee is actually one of the top sources of polyphenols, which (like fibre) feed your gut bacteria.

But as with most things, when someone asks me if coffee is good or bad for their gut, my answer is… it depends. We’re all beautifully different!

Most adults can have up to 400mg of caffeine a day without any side effects – but some people can be more sensitive (mostly down to genetics and how your body breaks it down). Some of the more common side effects may include nervousness, anxiety, gut symptoms and have trouble sleeping (particularly if consumed towards the end of the day).

It can be tricky to tell exactly how much you’re having too, as caffeine content can vary from coffee to coffee, as well as teas and other sources. Here’s a preview of the handy guide in my book.

Trouble sleeping?

Try keeping caffeine to the morning or before 3 pm, as it can disrupt your body’s attempt to wind down before bed. I generally have one coffee in the morning and then opt for decaf after midday. While decaf still typically has small amounts of caffeine, comparatively it’s pretty insignificant i.e it’s unlikely to cause the above side effects.


Do you tend to always go after your morning coffee? The mass movement of your gut (essentially the pooping urge) increases in the morning. This is further enhanced after a meal (containing carbs & fat) and after coffee.


On the flip side, if you’re experiencing diarrhoea, it can be a good idea to limit coffee until your gut has settled, that’s because caffeine can be gut-stimulating.


For those with IBS, it’s worth checking if caffeine affects you. If so, try limiting to one caffeine-containing drink or food a day, e.g. 1 single-shot coffee, 1 tea, staying within 50–100mg a day. See if you notice any changes after 4 weeks.


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