In case you need one more motivator to stay well-hydrated throughout the day, according to Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist and New York Times bestselling author of the books Fiber Fueled and The Fiber Fueled Cookbook, water is hugely important for maintaining well-balanced microbiome, too. The good news, however, is that Dr. Bulsiewicz says that you have options: beverage options, that is. So if you're not gung-ho on plain old H2O, read on for his favorite gut-friendly drinks that help you stay hydrated and regular.
The best gut-friendly drinks that support hydration, according to a gastroenterologist
Although there are tons of drinks on the market to pick from, Dr. Bulsiewicz likes to keep things simple. His two favorite drinks to sip throughout the day (that aren’t plain water) are coffee and green tea, which he says help keep him hydrated and energized. And it’s no coincidence that they’re loaded with tons of nutrients that help boost gut health and digestion, too.
Cue a big sigh of relief: Coffee is indeed one of Dr. Bulsiewicz's favorite gut-friendly drinks. “Coffee can definitely be a gut-healthy beverage. Believe it or not, it contains soluble fiber in addition to antioxidants,” he says. While research does show that coffee contains between 0.47 and 0.75 grams of fiber per 100 milliliters, the gastroenterologist does, of course, underscore that this doesn’t mean that you should replace high-fiber fruits and veggies with more cold brew.
In addition to its soluble fiber content, coffee is loaded with polyphenols, an organic compound found primarily in plants that have been linked to a host of health benefits, from boosting your cognitive functioning and bolstering your immune system to preventing chronic disease.
If you’re looking to get even more microbiome-boosting benefits from your morning latte or iced mocha, know that you can always spike your favorite coffee drink with some gut-healthy spices. “I enjoy adding a mix of spices to my coffee. Cinnamon can be your entry point, but my favorite is the gut spice trinity: cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric,” Dr. Bulsiewicz says.
Just keep in mind that while coffee might be great for many, it might not sit well with others. “Coffee is not for everyone. The caffeine may aggravate acid reflux or diarrhea,” Dr. Bulsiewicz cautions.
If you have a sensitive stomach that can tolerate coffee but would prefer to sip on something lower in acid, look for dark roast coffee beans. Because they're roasted for longer and at higher temperatures, dark roast beans tends to have fewer acid producing compounds that trigger your stomach to secrete more acid.
Matcha Green Tea
When Dr. Bulsiewicz isn’t sipping a warm cup of joe, he’s likely drinking a refreshing iced matcha green tea. “Matcha green tea is my favorite afternoon pick me up. It’s densely packed with a polyphenol called EGCG that's known to be prebiotic, meaning beneficial to the gut microbiome,” he says. Studies show that green tea can influence the gut microbiota by stimulating the growth of specific beneficial species and/or hindering the development of detrimental ones.
Dr. Bulsiewicz also stirs a not-so-secret ingredient packed with longevity-boosting benefits into his mug of green tea. “I'm always looking for ways to take my gut health game to the next level. With matcha green tea, I like to add a squeeze of lemon to increase the polyphenol load even more,” he says. In other words, because lemon and matcha green tea are both packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits, they're basically a match made in microbiome-boosting heaven.
When shopping for matcha tea powder, keep an eye out for ceremonial grade options, like this deliciously smooth and earthy tea from Matchabar. It’s rich in antioxidants and the amino acid L-theanine, which has been linked to boosting focus and feelings of calm.
Does a gastroenterologist recommend drinking "healthier" sodas?
While Dr. Bulsiewicz tends to stick with his tried and true favorites of water, coffee, and green tea, there are some additional drinks he might throw into the mix every now and then. “I'll take these new health-washed sodas over the old sugar-laden, artificial-colored classics. They are a step in a better direction,” he points out. “But if it's caffeine I seek, give me the real thing—coffee and tea—all day. And if I'm searching for bubbles, I prefer a fermented beverage such as kombucha, consumed in moderation and preferably low in sugar.”
An RD explains the benefits of drinking kombucha:
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