ICYMI, Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist and New York Times bestselling author of the books Fiber Fueled and The Fiber Fueled Cookbook, recently told us that coffee is one of his two favorite drinks for promoting healthy digestion and regularity. “Coffee can definitely be a gut-healthy beverage. Believe it or not, it contains soluble fiber in addition to antioxidants,” Dr. Bulsiewicz says. This is good news, considering soluble fiber is critical for keeping things flowing steadily in the digestive tract. And the antioxidants, aka polyphenols, can help boost cognitive functioning and combat inflammation in the body.
Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, agrees. “Some studies suggest drinking coffee may help manage inflammation, which can support gut health," she says. "Researchers of these studies have also linked drinking coffee with a reduced risk of colon cancer—and positively impacting the gut."
Now that we’ve basically gotten the green light (and much-needed justification) to continue splurging on our favorite over-priced drinks from the local coffee shop, we spoke with Manaker about her own favorite coffee order that she carefully brews to have the maximum amount of gut health benefits—and yes, it’s simple but effective.
A registered dietitian's coffee order for maintaining a well-balanced microbiome
For starters, Manaker's favorite gut-friendly coffee is super straightforward. “When I am out and about, I try to stick to coffee drinks that contain very little added sugar, if any, to support my gut health,” she says. This is because, according to Manaker, sugar has been known to have adverse effects on the gut and more. "Studies have repeatedly shown that added sugar causes inflammation, which affects the entire body, including the brain and heart." This is why Manaker says drinking coffee black, and without sugar or sweeteners, is her go-to the majority of the time.
Of course, transitioning from frappuccinos to black coffee might not be the easiest (or most palatable) journey for many—which is why Manaker says that she adds a splash of oat milk every now and then when she’s not in the mood for just plain black coffee. “Typically, black coffee will be just what I need; [however], an oat milk latte is my go-to when I need a little more than just coffee. The oat milk contains some fiber, which can support gut health, and as long as there is no added sugar, it is a nice addition to a latte or a cappuccino,” she says.
What are other RD-approved ingredients to add to your coffee?
When Manaker doesn’t order coffee while out and about and makes it at home instead, she relies on one special ingredient that she says is the key to boosting the gut-benefiting potential of her usual coffee order. “When at home, I love adding Regular Girl to my coffee to start my day with plant fiber plus probiotics,” she says. Regular Girl is a prebiotic fiber and probiotic supplement that promotes healthy digestive balance and comes in convenient on-the-go packets that contain five grams of plant fiber and eight billion active probiotics in powder form that dissolves easily in liquid.
One thing Manaker says to keep in mind when adding this product to a hot cup of coffee is the drink's temperature. “I make sure not to heat my coffee too warm to allow for the probiotics to continue to thrive,” she says. But Manaker says that this prebiotic (which feeds the good bacteria already thriving in your gut) and probiotic (the healthy bacteria that help you fight off diseases) combo is one of the easiest ways to boost coffee’s already robust gut health benefits.
So, how good is coffee for us, really? An RD spills the beans:
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