Coffee Creates a PH imbalance (More Acidic) — The increase hydrochloric acid acts upon your stomach eating into the mucosal linings of your stomach and that’s how we get stomach ulcers which can lead to a weak gut lining causes leaky gut syndrome. Several studies demonstrate that coffee can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, a valve that keeps stomach acid out of the esophagus. For instance, in a trial of healthy participants, drinking coffee increased measurements of lower esophageal sphincter pressure (13).
A Mayo Clinic partnered study found that men who drank more than four 8 fl. oz. cups of coffee had a 21% increase in all-cause mortality. Another study showed that those who consume 6+ coffees per day have a greater risk of developing heart disease. A study conducted by Dr. Lucio Mos found that young adults who were diagnosed with mild hypertension had 4 times the risk of having a heart attack if they consumed 4 or more cups of coffee. More moderate consumption showed 3 times the risk. Src.
Coffee contains Acrylamide which is a carcinogen that forms when coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures. The darker the roast, the higher the levels of acrylamide are likely to be. In fact, coffee has been shown to be one of the major sources of this chemical in American diets.
AARP.com reported Coffee is highly acidic and is irritating to the gastrointestinal tract. Switching to decaf won’t help: In fact, some research has found that decaf increases stomach acid even more than caffeinated coffee. Neither will switching methods of brewing or roasting. Avoiding coffee is the only solution!
Things That Harm Your Gut Bacteria
The human gut is home to over 100 trillion bacteria, known as the “gut flora.” Having a healthy gut flora is incredibly important for your overall health.
Interestingly, many diets, lifestyle and other environmental factors can negatively affect your gut bacteria.
What Are Gut Bacteria and Why Are They Important? Hundreds of species of bacteria reside in your gut. Some of them are friendly, while others are not.
Each group plays a role in your health and requires different nutrients for growth (3Trusted Source).
Both dysbiosis and a reduction in gut flora diversity have been linked to insulin resistance, weight gain, inflammation, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Therefore, it’s important to keep your gut bacteria as friendly and abundant as possible.
Surprising Things that can cause harm to your gut bacteria.
Not Eating a Diverse Range of Foods
Generally, rich and diverse gut flora is considered to be a healthy one (12Trusted Source).
A diet consisting of a wide variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can lead to more diverse gut flora. In fact, changing up your diet can alter your gut flora profile after only a few days (12Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
This is because the food you eat provides nutrients that help bacteria grow. A diet rich in whole foods provides your gut with a variety of nutrients that help promote the growth of different types of bacteria, resulting in more diverse gut flora.
Unfortunately, over the past 50 years, much of the diversity in the Western diet has been lost. Today, 75% of the world’s food supply comes from only 12 plants and five animal species (12Trusted Source).
Their diets are generally unaffected by the Western world and are rich in fiber and a variety of plant protein sources.
SUMMARY: A diet lacking in a variety of different whole foods can result in a loss of gut flora diversity. This may have a number of negative health effects.
Lack of Prebiotics in the Diet
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that passes through the body undigested and promotes the growth and activity of friendly gut bacteria (19Trusted Source).
Many foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, naturally contain prebiotic fiber.
A lack of them in the diet may be harmful to your overall digestive health (20Trusted Source).
Foods high in prebiotics include:
One study in 30 obese women found that taking a daily prebiotic supplement for three months promoted the growth of the healthy bacteria Bifidobacterium and Faecalibacterium (21Trusted Source).
These fatty acids are the main nutrient source for the cells in your colon. They can be absorbed into your blood, where they promote metabolic and digestive health, reduce inflammation and can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
SUMMARY: Prebiotics are a type of fiber commonly found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They are important for increasing healthy gut bacteria like Bifidobacterium.
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
In terms of gut health, chronic alcohol consumption can cause serious problems, including dysbiosis.
One study examined the gut flora of 41 alcoholics and compared them to 10 healthy individuals who consumed little-to-no alcohol. Dysbiosis was present in 27% of the alcoholic population, but it was not present in any of the healthy individuals (29Trusted Source).
Another study compared the effects of three different types of alcohol on gut health.
Gin decreased the number of beneficial gut bacteria, whereas red wine actually increased the abundance of bacteria known to promote gut health and decreased the number of harmful gut bacteria like Clostridium.
The beneficial effect of moderate red wine consumption on gut bacteria appears to be due to its polyphenol content.
SUMMARY: Generally speaking, alcohol consumption has a harmful effect on gut bacteria.
- Antibiotic Use
Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections and diseases caused by bacteria, such as urinary tract infections and strep throat. They work by either killing bacteria or preventing them from multiplying and have saved millions of lives over the past 80 years.
However, one of their drawbacks is that they affect both good and bad bacteria. In fact, even a single antibiotic treatment can lead to harmful changes in the composition and diversity of the gut flora (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
Antibiotics usually cause a short-term decline in beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, and can temporarily increase harmful bacteria like Clostridium (36Trusted Source).
However, antibiotics can also lead to long-term alterations in the gut flora. After completing a dose of antibiotics, most bacteria return after 1–4 weeks, but their numbers often don’t return to previous levels (37, 38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).
In fact, one study found that a single dose of antibiotics reduced the diversity of Bacteroides, one of the most dominant bacterial groups, and increased the number of resistant strains. These effects remained for up to two years (40Trusted Source).
SUMMARY: Antibiotics can affect the diversity and composition of the gut flora, even in cases of short-term use. This can have harmful effects on gut bacteria that may last for as long as two years.
- Lack of Regular Physical Activity
Physical activity is simply defined as any movement of the body that burns energy.
Walking, gardening, swimming, and cycling are all examples of physical activity.
Being physically active has a number of health benefits, including weight loss, lower stress levels and a reduced risk of chronic disease (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).
One study found that professional rugby players had a more diverse gut flora and twice the number of bacterial families, compared to the control groups matched for body size, age and gender (50Trusted Source).
Similar results have been reported in women.
A study compared the gut flora of 19 physically active women to 21 non-active women (52Trusted Source).
Active women had a higher abundance of health-promoting bacteria, including Bifidobacteriumand Akkermansia, suggesting that regular physical activity, even at low-to-moderate intensities, can be beneficial.
SUMMARY: Regular physical activity promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia. These positive effects are not seen in individuals who are inactive.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Getting good sleep is very important for overall health.
Sleep is so important that your body has its own time-keeping clock, known as your circadian rhythm (61).
It appears that the gut also follows a daily circadian-like rhythm. Disrupting your body clock through a lack of sleep, shift work and eating late at night may have harmful effects on your gut bacteria (64Trusted Source, 65Trusted Source, 66Trusted Source).
A 2016 study was the first to explore the effects of short-term sleep deprivation on the composition of gut flora (67Trusted Source).
The study compared the effects of two nights of sleep deprivation (about 4 hours per night) versus two nights of normal sleep duration (8.5 hours) in nine men.
Two days of sleep deprivation caused subtle changes to the gut flora and increased the abundance of bacteria associated with weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and fat metabolism (67Trusted Source, 68Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, sleep deprivation’s effects on gut bacteria is a new area of research. Further studies are required to determine the impact of sleep loss and poor sleep quality on gut health.
SUMMARY: The body has a 24-hour internal clock called the circadian rhythm. Sleep deprivation can disrupt the circadian rhythm, and this appears to have harmful effects on gut bacteria.
Too Much Stress
Being healthy isn’t only about diet, physical activity, and adequate sleep.
High-stress levels can also have harmful effects on the body. In the gut, stress can increase sensitivity, reduce blood flow and alter the gut bacteria (69Trusted Source).
Studies in mice have shown that different types of stress, such as isolation, crowding and heat stress, can reduce gut flora diversity and alter gut profiles (70Trusted Source, 71Trusted Source, 72Trusted Source).
Stress exposure in mice also affects bacterial populations, causing an increase in potentially harmful bacteria like Clostridium and reducing beneficial populations of bacteria like Lactobacillus (73Trusted Source, 74Trusted Source).
One study in humans looked at the effect of stress on the composition of gut bacteria in 23 college students (75).
The composition of gut bacteria was analyzed at the beginning of the semester and at the end of the semester during final examinations.
The high stress associated with final exams caused a reduction in friendly bacteria, including Lactobacilli.
While promising, research on the relationship between stress and gut flora is fairly new, and human studies are currently limited.
SUMMARY: Excess stress has been shown to reduce gut flora diversity and alter gut flora profiles by increasing harmful bacteria like Clostridium and reducing beneficial bacteria like Lactobacilli.
How to Improve Gut Health
A healthy gut flora that’s high in friendly bacteria is essential for overall health.
Here are some tips on how to improve your gut flora:
Eat more prebiotic foods: Eat plenty of foods rich in prebiotic fibers, such as legumes, onions, asparagus, oats, bananas, and others.
Consume more probiotics: Probiotics may increase the abundance of healthy gut bacteria. Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and tempeh, are all excellent sources. You could also start taking a probiotic supplement.
Make time for quality sleep: To improve sleep quality, try cutting out caffeine late in the day, sleeping in complete darkness and making a structured sleep routine so that you go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
Reduce stress: Regular exercise, meditation, and deep breathing exercises may help reduce your stress levels. If you regularly feel overwhelmed with stress, you may want to consider seeing a psychologist.
Eat foods rich in polyphenols: Good sources include blueberries, red wine, dark chocolate, and green tea. Polyphenols are not digested very efficiently and often make their way to the colon, where they are digested by bacteria.
SUMMARY: There are many ways to improve your gut health. Eating a healthy and diverse diet, getting good sleep and reducing stress levels are all great ways to help improve your gut flora.