How Mushroom Coffee Could Improve Your Digestion

Your standard morning cup of joe might give you caffeine to fuel you through the day, but mushroom coffee, a popular coffee bean alternative, might be doing more for your gut, according to a 2021 study.

Though it may seem like a more recent addition to the morning beverage lineup, mushrooms have been used as a caffeinated alternative since at least World War II, when Healthline shares that Finland used the fungus to fuel its population when coffee was scarce. Mushrooms also have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, where they're stirred into soups and brewed into tea, according to the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, as well as consumed other ways. But these aren't just any old grocery store portobello or button mushrooms. Popular mushrooms used in mushroom coffee include the chaga, turkey's tail, lion's mane, reishi, and cordyceps varieties, which are known as medicinal mushrooms

To make mushroom coffee, many brands combine ground, dehydrated mushrooms with regular coffee so you get the most bang for your buck in terms of your wake-up call drink. The coffee beans provide you with the energy you're looking for and that familiar coffee flavor, while the mushrooms may bring a variety of health benefits — including digestion improvement — to the table.

How mushroom coffee may help your stomach

The secret sauce of the mushroom coffee's potential digestive benefits is in its prebiotics, which Mayo Clinic explains can help your gut microbiome be in tip-top shape. A study in India evaluated what kinds of prebiotics reside within edible mushrooms, if any, and found them to be a promising source. The prebiotics researchers found in the mushrooms tested encourage "growth of gut microbiota," working to prevent the growth of bad microorganisms and pathogens in your body. Though the study doesn't name mushroom coffee explicitly as a good source for these prebiotics — or, for that matter, any specific mushroom – Nutra Ingredients-Asia shared that a different study found reishi mushrooms (a common choice for mushroom coffee, as stated above) as having "prebiotic properties."

Other claims of the wonders of mushroom coffee include anti-allergenic properties, reduced risk of heart disease, and even the possibility of helping with cancer symptoms and side effects (via Healthline). Because the caffeine content of mushroom coffee is lower than that of traditional coffee, WebMD reports drinking it might even help with easing stress and anxiety.

More research on the drink is needed before experts can declare all these things to be true, but mushroom coffee fans are paving the way for more information about the effects every morning when they brew up a cup of their favorite blend.