Can Red Wine Enhance Your ‘Microbiome’?

Key Takeaways:

  • The occasional glass of red wine potentially helps enhance the diversity of beneficial bacteria, or the ‘microbiome’, in your gut, which can lower cholesterol and maintain weight.
  • The red wine’s alcohol content is not the key element but the presence of polyphenols, antioxidant-enriched compounds, which are also found in fruits and vegetables.
  • A study found that red wine increased the microbial diversity in the gut, compared to beer, cider, white wine, and whiskey with the same beneficial impacts evident in non-wine drinkers.
  • Despite positive associations, these findings do not definitively determine that red wine improves the microbiome – the relationship has been observed rather than conclusively proven.
  • Excessive intake can cause health issues; moderation is recommended, aligning with the American Heart Association’s guidelines – up to two drinks daily for men and one for women.

The occasional glass of your favorite pinot noir could be beneficial to the bacteria that reside in your gut – so suggest the findings of a recent study.

Merely one glass of red wine on a weekly basis can augment the diversity of the beneficial bacteria in your microbiome. This can then assist in lowering undesirable cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight, state researchers.

“Greater consumption results in higher bacterial diversity. But even minimal quantities, such as one glass of red wine each week, demonstrates an advantage,” says primary study author Caroline Le Roy. A certified research associate, Le Roy is a part of the twin research and genetic epidemiology department at King’s College London.

Le Roy does, however, emphasize that these findings, while strong, do not solidify that red wine enhances the microbiome. The connection between the two is observed, but not proven.

The alcohol content is not the key player here but the polyphenols present in red wine. These polyphenols play a crucial role in nourishing the good bacteria present in the microbiome, explain the researchers.

Antioxidant-enriched polyphenols are not exclusive to red wine. Vegetables and fruits also carry them.

In their study, Le Roy and her research team compared the effects of beer, red wine, cider, white wine, and whiskey on the gut microbiomes of 916 female twins. They discovered that only red wine resulted in a heightened diversity of the microbiome.

The microbiome, a diverse set of bacteria dwelling in the gut, plays a critical role in health factors. A healthy microbiome aids in digestion and keeps certain diseases at bay. In contrast, an unbalanced microbiome can trigger poor immunity, weight gain, and high cholesterol, adds Le Roy.

A microbiome teeming with varied bacteria denotes a healthy state, Le Roy explains.

For those who did not consume wine, Le Roy’s team found that red wine enhanced the variety of bacteria in their microbiomes.

The investigators replicated their results in three different groups across Great Britain, the US, and the Netherlands. This raised the total count of participants to almost 3,000.

Furthermore, these outcomes persisted even when researchers factored in variables such as diet, age, and socioeconomic status.

Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, posits that the health benefits linked with red wine may be attributed to other factors associated with a healthier lifestyle.

Her questions are as follows: Do these individuals generally adopt healthier behaviors, like avoiding smoking, consuming a plant-based diet, and regular exercise?

According to Heller, Polyphenols are found in abundance not only in grapes, from which wine is derived, but also in other plant-based foods.

However, she notes that alcohol-free options such as grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and teas also host polyphenols.

“Moreover, plants are our exclusive source of dietary fiber, a favorite among the microbes that inhabit our gut. When gut microbes are thriving, our bodies also stay robust,” says Heller.

While moderate red wine consumption has some apparent advantages, excessive intake can lead to issues including liver disease, some cancers, high cholesterol, and a depressed immune system, warns Heller.

Heller states, “Indulging in red wine, or any alcoholic drink for that matter, isn’t a health panacea as we’ve been led to believe.”

Those who choose to drink alcohol should adhere to the American Heart Association’s recommendation, which is one to two drinks daily for men and one drink for women. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.

“Truth be told, most of us likely consume more than this. Should you not drink alcohol, there’s no reason to start,” advises Heller.

The study was shared in the _Gastroenterology_ journal on August 27.

For Additional Information

For added insight into microbiomes, consider visiting the Harvard School of Public Health.

Emma Caplan

Hola from sunny Costa Rica! I’m Emma Caplan, a California native turned Costa Rican resident. With over a decade of writing experience under my belt, I’ve crafted stories, articles, and narratives on a multitude of subjects. But at heart, health and lifestyle topics resonate the most with me.Not just a writer by profession, I'm an athlete by passion. CrossFit challenges and exhilarates me, shaping both my physical stamina and my perspective on life. I love intertwining my firsthand experiences from the box with my pieces, giving readers a unique blend of authenticity and expertise.Married and fully immersed in the pura vida lifestyle, I've found the perfect balance between my personal and professional life in this tropical paradise. Whether you're here for tips, insights, or stories, I’m committed to delivering content that informs, inspires, and perhaps even pushes you to try that one workout you've been hesitating to start.Join me in my journey as I explore the nexus between physical wellbeing and the art of writing. Let's sweat, learn, and grow together!
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