The One Ingredient a Gastroenterologist Wants You To Add to Your Coffee for Optimal Gut Health

Photo: Stocksy/ Helen Rushbrook
If there’s one thing Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist, bestselling author of The Fiber Fueled Cookbook, and U.S. medical director of Zoe, is passionate about—aside from the gut microbiome—it’s coffee. In fact, Dr. Bulsiewicz says it's one of his two favorite gut-healthy drinks for healthy digestion that he enjoys daily. (Take that, kombucha.)

But when we asked Dr. Bulsiewicz for his go-to coffee shop order, he gave us some intel that you can use when making coffee at home. The one ingredient he likes adding to his coffee: "Cinnamon," he says. "It's the one ingredient everyone has in their spice rack."

Experts In This Article

Delicious, shelf-stable, and easy to find in nearly any grocery store—there's a lot to love about adding cinnamon to your coffee. But Dr. Bulsiewicz says that this humble, delicious ingredient can also enhance the gut-friendly qualities of your daily cup of joe. Keep reading for the lowdown.

Is it good to put cinnamon in your coffee?

Yes, there are quite a few benefits to putting cinnamon in your coffee. Dr. Bulziewicz explains more below.

1. It’s packed with antioxidants

Dr. Bulsiewicz says that coffee is apparently the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet1. That's because coffee is high in polyphenols2, a plant compound with potent antioxidant properties that help fight inflammation and ward off chronic disease and cancer. “Polyphenols are also prebiotic, which means that they can shape the microbiome,” Dr. Bulsiewicz explains. So adding a pinch of cinnamon, another polyphenol powerhouse, to this antioxidant-packed brew can help further elevate the antioxidants in your morning coffee.

2. It adds a little fiber to your drink

Dr. Bulsiewicz says a cup of joe is a good source of gut-supporting fiber. “Most people don't realize this, but coffee actually contains two types of fiber: soluble and prebiotic fiber,” he says. Soluble fiber completely dissolves, which is why coffee might go on under the radar when it comes to fiber-rich foods. Dr. Bulsiewicz adds that soluble fiber is also considered prebiotic, aka the fermentable fiber that feeds good gut bacteria. Cinnamon is also a surprising source of fiber. In fact, even just one teaspoon of cinnamon contains more than a gram of fiber. (Although that's likely more than you'd want to put in your coffee.)

3. It’s a consistent way to support your gut health

Consistency is key when it comes to gut health, says Dr. Bulsiewicz—consistently eating fiber and plant foods, drinking lots of water, exercising, etc. go a long way towards maintaining the health of your gut. Although coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon shouldn’t replace other fiber-rich foods in your diet, Dr. Bulsiewicz says consuming it regularly has its perks and is a great way to stay consistent in your gut health journey. “So, can you get more gut health power from a salad? Sure. But coffee is the thing that [most people] do every single day and because we do it every day, it starts to have a snowball effect in our gut microbiome,” Dr. Bulsiewicz says.

4. It tastes pretty darn good

Drinking coffee black might not be everyone's cup of tea, err, coffee. This is why Dr. Bulsiewicz suggests adding cinnamon is a great way to make an already gut-healthy drink even better for digestion. “Everyone likes it,” Dr. Bulsiewicz says. We can’t say he’s wrong.

How much cinnamon do you put in your coffee?

In terms of how much cinnamon to add to your coffee, Dr. Bulsiewicz says it’s up to you and your taste preferences. “You don't necessarily have to hit some standard of expectation, you just need to make it flavorful and recognize that it's good for your gut,” he says. So, take this as an invitation to listen to what your taste buds say. Start with 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and see how you like it, adding more if you want it.

Other gut-healthy ways to drink your coffee

Want to kick it up a notch? Dr. Bulsiewicz looks to his spice rack for more than just cinnamon. In fact, he enjoys pairing cinnamon with ground ginger and turmeric for a trifecta of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich ingredients.

If you can't stand to drink your coffee black, Dr. Bulsiewicz says a small amount of soy milk is perfectly fine for gut health. “A little bit of organic soy milk can help cut the acidity and mellow the flavor,” he says.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to add a bit more fiber to your cup of coffee, Dr. Bulsiewicz recommends mixing in a fiber supplement, particularly acacia powder. “About three to five grams of fiber from acacia powder will do,” he says.

Discover the benefits of drinking coffee, according to a registered dietitian:

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Eastman, Peggy. “New Research on Antioxidants Shows Surprising Role for Coffee.” Oncology Times 27 (2005). 39-40. doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000290968.61298.07
  2. Bae, Jae-Hoon et al. “Coffee and health.” Integrative medicine research vol. 3,4 (2014): 189-191. doi:10.1016/j.imr.2014.08.002

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