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Probiotic Coffee Gets Your Gut Going. What Do Dietitians Think?

yogurt and coffee


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Key Takeaways

  • Researchers developed a new fermented coffee beverage with more than 1 billion live bacteria.
  • Fermented coffee could be a way for people following a dairy-free diet to get probiotics.
  • Experts say that you should give your body time to get used to new probiotic sources to avoid uncomfortable digestive side effects.

Probiotic coffee promises to wake you up in the morning while strengthening your gut. It sounds like a dream combination, but should you drink it?

Researchers from the National University of Singapore recently published data on a new fermented coffee beverage that includes 1 billion live probiotics. The team developed this shelf-stable coffee as an alternative to dairy-based probiotic products.

The research team noted that most people currently get probiotics from dairy products. They wanted to create a product that didn't have to be refrigerated and could be consumed by people who follow a non-dairy diet.

"As coffee is consumed daily by many adults, it is an ideal base for probiotics which requires daily supplementation," Liu Shao Quan, MS, PhD, a food science professor at the National University of Singapore who led the research, tells Verywell. "Imbuing probiotics into an everyday beverage also ensures that the benefits of probiotics are more easily accessible to a wider mainstream audience."

This new probiotic coffee product isn't currently available on the market. But when it does hit the shelves, it will join a few other caffeinated drinks containing probiotics.

Liu says that it's rare for probiotic foods to last longer than six months at room temperature. The longer shelf life will reduce the perishability and cost of this product.

How Do Probiotics Support Gut Health?

Probiotics are a "good" type of bacteria and yeast that help keep your gut healthy. They can be found in fermented foods, yogurt, or taken as supplement. Scientists are still researching figure out exactly how probiotics support overall health.

Some experts say that probiotics are just one side of the story. "The thing that people often forget about is that probiotics have to be fueled with prebiotics," Heather Finley, MS, DCN, RDN, a registered dietitian and gut health specialist tells Verywell.

"A lot of probiotics act like travelers in the gut. They come in, see the sights, eat the food, take pictures, and then they leave," Finley says. "They need to be supported with a fuel source. Just like we need fuel to survive, they do too. They feed off prebiotic foods and prebiotic fiber."

Humans can't digest prebiotic fibers, which are found in fruits and vegetables like apples, onions, asparagus, and chicory root. But probiotics help process these prebiotic fibers to support gut health. People who want to support gut health should focus more on prebiotics than probiotics, Finely explains.

"Prebiotics are actual food that’s going to populate the probiotics in our gut," she says. "If someone is consuming a diverse diet of prebiotic fiber then the need for a daily probiotic may not be necessary."

What This Means For You

Probiotic coffee may become more trendy as more researchers are developing new products. However, dietitians say that probiotics should come from your overall diet, rather than a single food item or beverage.

Do Probiotics and Coffee Mix Well?

Unlike traditional coffee, this probiotic coffee product is fermented. By fermenting the coffee brew, researchers were able to create a product that keeps the probiotics alive for at least six months.

Typically, the heat and acidity from coffee can kill probiotics, and the study researchers say probiotic coffee should be consumed cold. This also means that simply adding a probiotic supplement to hot coffee may just negate the health benefits.

Probiotics and some chemicals in coffee are thought to stimulate bowel movement. Will the combination of probiotics and coffee irritate the stomach or cause diarrhea?

Kristie Leigh, RD, a senior manager of scientific affairs at Danone North America, says that starting a new probiotic routine may lead to some uncomfortable side effects such as gas or bloating. "But these issues would be expected to clear up after your body gets used to the probiotics," she tells Verywell.

If people decide to start a probiotic coffee routine, Leigh says, it's best to consume this beverage in moderation to allow the body to adjust to it.

Where Else Can You Get Probiotics From?

Aside from fermented coffee, foods like coconut yogurt, miso, and tempeh are good options for non-dairy consumers, according to Debbie Petitpain, MS, RDN, LD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

"Fermented foods have been part of our food culture for centuries," she tells Verywell.

Petitpain and other experts emphasize that probiotics should come from your overall diet, not from a single food item or drink. Eating a balanced diet gives your body the prebiotics and probiotics it needs to support gut health.

"The primary way to maintain a healthy gut is to eat a healthy well-rounded diet that has plenty of fiber," Petitpain says. "Getting enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a great way to do that."

Maintaining gut health is also important for more than just digestion. “The GI tract is actually the largest part of our immune system," she says. "In this era of COVID, flu, and cold, having a healthy gut can really help your immune system stay top-notch."

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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chan M, Toh M, Liu S. Growth, survival, and metabolic activities of probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. boulardii CNCM-I745 in fermented coffee brewsInternational Journal of Food Microbiology. 2021;350:109229. doi:10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2021.109229

  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Probiotics: What you need to know. Updated August 2019.