Red wine lovers tend to have better gut health and lower levels of bad cholesterol, according to a new study published in the journal, Gastroenterology. This gives a new reason for those wine drinkers to lift a glass on top of previous research that had shown a positive link between red wine and heart health.
Gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms in the digestion tract which plays an important role in overall health. An imbalance of ‘microbes’ compared to ‘bad’ microbes in the gut can lead to many health issues such as a reduced immune system, high cholesterol, or weight gain. A gut microbiome with a higher number of different bacterial species is considered a marker of healthy gut health.
For the study, the team of researchers from the Department of Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London explored the effect of beer, cider, red wine, white wine and spirits on the gut microbiome and subsequent health in a group of 916 UK female twins.
The findings showed that the gut microbiome of red wine drinkers was more diverse compared to non-red wine drinkers. These findings were only shown with red wine, and were not observed with white wine, beer or spirits.
Co-author of the study, Dr Caroline Le Roy said: “While we have long known of the unexplained benefits of red wine on heart health, this study shows that moderate red wine consumption is associated with greater diversity and a healthier gut microbiota that partly explain its long debated beneficial effects on health.”
The result of this study has also been observed in three different cohorts in the UK, the U.S, and the Netherlands. Other factors were taken into account such as diet, age, weight, and socioeconomic status.
Researchers believe the main reason for the connection between the health benefits and red wine are due to the polyphenols in the wine. Polyphenols are naturally occurring chemicals that are found in many fruits and vegetables. They have many health benefits including antioxidants, that can act as a fuel for the microbes in the gut.
Lead author Professor Tim Spector said: “This is one of the largest ever studies to explore the effects of red wine in the guts of nearly three thousand people in three different countries and provides insights that the high levels of polyphenols in the grape skin could be responsible for much of the controversial health benefits when used in moderation.”
He added, “Although we observed an association between red wine consumption and the gut microbiota diversity, drinking red wine rarely, such as once every two weeks, seems to be enough to observe an effect. If you must choose one alcoholic drink today, red wine is the one to pick as it seems to potentially exert a beneficial effect on you and your gut microbes, which in turn may also help weight and risk of heart disease. However, it is still advised to consume alcohol with moderation.”
This study also found that those who consumed red wine on a regular basis showed lower levels of obesity and ‘bad’ cholesterol which is thought to be in part due to the gut microbiota. With more and more research showing how important gut microbiome is for health, this study goes to show that there are even some non-conventional ways to increase the microbes in the gut, such as drinking red wine. Just remember to drink responsibly and remember that red wine is still alcohol which does have some negative health effects. So, be sure to consume red wine in moderations.