- Daily consumption of coffee is linked with a lower risk of gallstones
- Coffee’s gallstone protection might be due to its affect on cholesterol levels in bile
- Coffee offers many health pros, but also many cons, so consider other options for avoiding gallstones like increasing your fiber intake and doing natural kidney flushes
Research on Coffee & Gallstones
If you’ve ever had gallstones, you know they are not something you’d like to experience again. It’s hard to believe that crystals so tiny can produce symptoms including nausea, stomach upset, and sharp abdominal pains when the stones block a duct leading out of the gallbladder. But if you are prone to developing gallstones, you might want to pop a pod in your Keurig or head to the nearest Starbucks because new research suggests that coffee might help you avoid them in the future.
The study, which was conducted at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, found that daily consumption of coffee is associated with a reduced risk of developing gallstones.1Nordestgaard; A.T.; et al. “Coffee intake protects against symptomatic gallstone disease in the general population: a Mendelian randomization study.” Journal of Internal Medicine. 4 September 2019. Accessed 13 September 2019. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/joim.12970. These results are based on an investigation that included 104,493 Danish men and women who were tracked for eight years, on average.
Subjects who reported typically drinking more than six cups of coffee each day had a 23 percent lower risk of experiencing gallstones than their peers who said they drink no coffee. But don’t fret if that much java sounds totally unappealing to you; people drinking far less received benefits as well. Participants consuming three to six cups a day had a 17 percent lower risk of gallstones, and those consuming one cup a day had a three percent drop in gallstone risk.
How Does Coffee Protect Us From Gallstones?
To determine exactly how coffee influences whether gallstones form in the gallbladder, more research is required. But since the gallbladder stores the bile produced in the liver, the investigators think that it might have to do with the fact that gallstones tend to form when the amount of cholesterol in the bile is very high. Since caffeine is eliminated through the bile, it might be that process that causes a reduction in the levels of cholesterol in the bile, restoring balance and preventing gallstones.
If that’s the case, then decaffeinated coffee would not have the same effect, but this study didn’t compare caffeinated and decaffeinated coffees. We don’t even know for certain that coffee directly helps prevent gallstones from forming, as the research was only designed to show an association rather than cause and effect. What’s more, it could be other lifestyle variations of people who drink more coffee that provide protection from gallstones.
Preventing Gallstones Without a Daily Overdose of Coffee
We all know that coffee has been linked with many health benefits, including a lower risk of liver damage and potentially greater longevity, but it also has a significant downside. Regular coffee consumption can contribute to insomnia, gastrointestinal difficulties, headaches, and nervousness, particularly when intake is very high. So, you’re probably better off limiting yourself to just one to two cups of joe in the morning (or better yet, alternating with tea) to curb your coffee habit at that point.
Let that morning coffee work whatever magic it may and consider some alternative ways to avoid the potential formation of gallstones that are healthier than developing a seven-cup-a-day habit. Diet is closely connected to gallstone formation, so start there. Avoid foods high in unhealthy fats and those coming from animal sources, including dairy products, beef, and processed meats, as those are associated with developing gallstones. At the same time, increase your consumption of high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans since that can keep cholesterol from building up in the gallbladder. And a regular kidney detox helps flush incipient stones and optimizes gallbladder function, too, which will prevent stones from even forming.
|↑1||Nordestgaard; A.T.; et al. “Coffee intake protects against symptomatic gallstone disease in the general population: a Mendelian randomization study.” Journal of Internal Medicine. 4 September 2019. Accessed 13 September 2019. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/joim.12970.|