Wine for a healthy gut

Scientists do not stop to give us the reason: drinking wine is good. This is not new, but it is a new study that brings more benefits than we knew so far. And it does so not only to wine, but also to tea and coffee.

That is the data that have come off the study led by Dr. Alexandra Zhernakova. A study that has analyzed the microorganisms present in the intestine of more than 1,100 people, and identified 126 factors that correlate with changes in the composition of the microbial community of an individual.

Analysis of stool samples from the study participants showed that consumption of fruits, vegetables and yogurt benefits the microbiome, as well as drinking coffee, wine, tea and buttermilk. On the contrary, taking sugary soft drinks, whole milk or eating salty snacks and a lot of carbohydrates can make our intestinal health resent, as it reduces the diversity of microorganisms.

The wine, along with tea and coffee, keep active bacteria that are important for our gut. In the intestine we have good and bad bacteria. The key to good health is maintaining a balance between the two. And here comes the wine, as it helps to maintain a good level of good bacteria that balance the bad.

Bacteria may sound like a bad thing to have in your intestinal tract, but having a balanced mix of them actually helps to digest food, regulate immune function, and produce vitamin K (which plays a key role in helping the blood clot).

Since the study results showed that Merlot and low-alcohol red wine had similar positive effects on intestinal bacteria, researchers suspect it's not due to the alcohol but to the polyphenol compounds found in the wine.

Polyphenols are helpful plant-based compounds found in a variety of foods and beverages. Besides red grapes, many other fruits and vegetables are rich sources of polyphenols, as are coffee, tea, chocolate, and some nuts.

Previous research has looked at whether polyphenols in the diet can influence the balance of intestinal bacteria. This study sought to explore whether drinking red wine can have a similar prebiotic effect. Prebiotics are substances you eat that help promote the growth of good gut bacteria.

Having a great diversity of gut bacteria is beneficial to human health. The researchers discovered 60 dietary factors that determine this diversity, and coffee, tea and wine all played a role. Previous studies have shown that antacids and antibiotics decrease this diversity.

University of Groningen human genetics professor Dr. Cisca Wijmenga said, "Disease often occurs as the result of many factors. Most of these factors, like your genes or your age, are not things you can change. But you can change the diversity of your microbiome through adapting your diet or medication. When we understand how this works, it will open up new possibilities."

Good bacteria in the gut helps your body digest food while keeping pathogens such as yeast in check.

What the researchers found was really quite interesting. Chronic red wine consumption was found to significantly increased levels of a specific type of bacteria called bifidobacteria. Bifidobacteria is known to reduce gut wall permeability and as such, ultimately leads to lower levels of inflammation as measured by lower LPS concentration. And keep in mind that higher levels of LPS are in fact correlated with such issues as major depressive disorder, autism, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

The take-home message here is that in addition to the fairly well understood mechanisms explaining the health benefits of red wine consumption, we now have to add to the list the effects of red wine consumption on changing gut bacteria in a favorable way, increasing bifidobacteria,
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