Red Wine and Gut HealthAnyone who has ever woken up with a throbbing head and churning gut after a night of drinking will attest to the fact that too much booze is bad for you. However, when it comes to red wine, moderation is the key to a world of health benefits. Research shows that consuming a daily glass or two of red wine is good for your health. According to a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research, red wine is chockful of antioxidants which help your body combat free radicals. Active antioxidants such as quercetin, proanthocyanidin, and resveratrol in red wine also help decrease the oxidation rate in the cells of your body, thereby reducing the risk of inflammation and cardiovascular conditions. (1) There is another pivotal reason that makes red wine a worthy addition to your health routine—according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who drink red wine have markedly higher levels of friendly gut bacteria and much lower levels of bad bacteria. (2) Of course, this does not apply to all kinds of wine. Here’s how to choose the right red wine to support your gut health.
Quality and Quantity of WineAccording to studies by the National Institutes of Health, you can enjoy better heart health by indulging in a glass of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, or Cabernet Sauvignon which are dry red wines. Avoid sweet dessert wines as they pack a high-calorie punch with few health benefits to balance it out. Red wine also has tannins that improve blood circulation and dilate important blood vessels. Additionally, it is important to remember that moderate consumption is key. A glass or two of red wine on a daily basis opens up the doors to a world of health benefits. However, too much alcohol consumption is likely to work in reverse. Excess red wine intake leads to increased blood pressure, reduced sleep quality, liver cirrhosis, and inflammation in the pancreas, an irregular heartbeat, and higher triglycerides levels.
Red Wine and Your GutRed wine and your gut microbiome share a connection. Located in the gut, this microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria which work to improve your health, maintain blood sugar levels, support your metabolism (which can translate to weight loss), and reduce stress levels. Approximately 85% of this microbiome is—and should be—made up of probiotics or good bacteria. However, over time, maintaining this balance is easier said than done. Taking antibiotics, consuming processed foods and sugar, and several lifestyle factors can throw off your microbiome. Recent studies show that a couple of glasses of dry red wine can help to repopulate your gut microbiome so it can function at optimal capacity.
Backed by SciencePlenty of research studies indicate the positive effects derived from plant-based compounds called polyphenols that are found in abundance in red wine. These polyphenols boost your immunity, hunt free radicals, and improve the flexibility of your blood vessels. Resveratrol is an antioxidant that reduces bad cholesterol and prevents clotting of blood and blood vessel damage. Derived from the skin of red grapes, this antioxidant also stops the formation of plaque in the brain and inhibits the growth of fat cells. (3) (4) A Dutch study concluded that the consumption of red wine boosts the biodiversity of the gut and helps you maintain a healthy microbiome. (5) Red wine has a probiotic strain called P. pentosaceus CIAL-86 that adheres to the wall of the intestine and serves to protect your gut against harmful E. coli. Another study showed that people who consumed two glasses of dry red wine per day over a period of 20 days had much higher levels of an important lactic acid probiotic called Bifidobacteria. (6) This family of probiotic strains aid in the digestion of lactose and help produce enzymes, short chain fatty acids, vitamins, and antimicrobial compounds. Furthermore, red wine leaves certain compounds in the gut which help protect brain neurons from damage and death. Better protection of neurons means a lowered risk of developing brain health conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Support Your Gut HealthIndulging in moderate amounts of red wine can boost your microbes. Considering the major effects a healthy gut flora has on your overall health, it is important for you to do everything possible to support this balance. Other than drinking dry red wine, here are a few other important steps you can take:
- Pay attention to your diet - You are what you eat. An organic diet free of pesticides, preservatives, and additives is what your body needs. Incorporate whole foods, plant-based foods, healthy fats, colorful vegetables, and fiber into your daily diet.
- Get enough water and sleep - Give your overall health a boost by ensuring you stay hydrated and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Take a daily probiotic supplement - Seeding your digestive tract with adequate amounts of beneficial bacteria is key to good health. Opt for a multi-strain blend that can withstand your stomach acids and help repopulate your gut with probiotics.
- Saleem, T.S. Mohamed and S. Darbar Basha. "Red wine: A drink to your heart." J Cardiovasc Dis Res 1, no. 4 (2010)): 171–176. doi: 10.4103/0975-3583.74259.
- Queipo-Ortuño, María Isabel, María Boto-Ordóñez, Mora Murri, Juan Miguel Gomez-Zumaquero, Mercedes Clemente-Postigo, Ramon Estruch, Fernando Cardona Diaz, et al. "Influence of red wine polyphenols and ethanol on the gut microbiota ecology and biochemical biomarkers." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 95, no. 6 (2012): 1323–1334. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.027847.
- Etxeberria, U, A Fernández-Quintela, FI Milagro, L Aguirre, JA Martínez, and MP Portillo. "Impact of polyphenols and polyphenol-rich dietary sources on gut microbiota composition." J Agric Food Chem 61, no. 40 (2013): 9517-33. doi: 10.1021/jf402506c.
- Ngamukote, S., K. Mäkynen, T. Thilawech, and S. Adisakwattana. "Cholesterol-lowering activity of the major polyphenols in grape seed." Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) 16, no. 6 (2011): 5054-61. doi: 10.3390/molecules16065054.
- van Bussel, BCT, RMA Henry, CG Schalkwijk, JM Dekker, G Nijpels, EJM Feskens, and CDA Stehouwer. "Alcohol and red wine consumption, but not fruit, vegetables, fish or dairy products, are associated with less endothelial dysfunction and less low-grade inflammation: the Hoorn Study." Eur J Nutr 57, no. 4 (2018): 1409-1419. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1420-4.
- Pavlidou, E., M. Mantzorou, A. Fasoulas, C. Tryfonos, D. Petridis, and C. Giaginis. (2018). "Wine: An Aspiring Agent in Promoting Longevity and Preventing Chronic Diseases." Diseases (Basel, Switzerland) 6, no. 3 (2018): E73. doi:10.3390/diseases6030073.