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Wine and Gut Health: The Perfect Pairing?

Cheers to wine and gut health! Moderate consumption of red wine or white wine can have some health benefits, including immune support and digestive health. However, too much alcohol can be problematic...

A recent King’s College London study suggested that drinking red wine can improve cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of weight gain [1]. Meanwhile, other studies suggest white wine is rich in antioxidants that can help with lung health and cognitive function [2][3]. However, alcohol is an addictive substance and when not consumed in moderation, these health benefits can quickly decline. Let’s discuss the gut health effects of red wine and white wine. Cheers!

 

Red Wine Gut Health Benefits

 
For decades, we kind of took the unexplained benefits of red wine for granted. The old tale is that “A glass of wine for dinner is good for heart health.”
 
Yet, no one could explain it. There wasn’t much previous research to back these claims up.
 
Perhaps, it was just an excuse to have a glass of red wine with your steak on a random Wednesday night. Never mind the fact that they pair well together! Here are some reasons to consider going red!
 

red wine and gut health benefits

 

Metabolic Health Maintenance

 
One study involving ten metabolic syndrome patients and ten healthy subjects compared the intake of red wine and de-alcoholized red wine [4]. Results found that there was a greater number of gut microbiota diversity. Most notably, healthy test subjects saw an abundance of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.
 
Scientists also commented on the high presence of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Roseburia. These strains are known to produce metabolites like short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), including butyrate.
 
This SCFA helps give cells around the gut lining integrity. This beneficial effect prevents toxins from leaving the intestines and overtaking your healthy gut bacteria.
 
With higher levels of SCFA-producers, researchers noted there were fewer strains that create lipopolysaccharides (LPS). LPS are biomarkers for leaky gut and other metabolic disorders.
 
Strains that produce LPS that were most notably absent from the healthy guts include Escherichia coli and Enterobacter cloacae. We can detect the abundance of these strains with a Thryve Gut Health Test.

 

Immune System Boost
 
Another study looked at the benefits of polyphenols derived from grapes in red wine[5]. These fruits have high levels of polyphenols, which is why scientists believe this alcoholic beverage might be beneficial for gut health.

 

Polyphenols are pigment-based molecules in fruits and vegetables that include ellagitannins, flavonoids, and tannic acid. These names might not mean a lot to you, but they are clutch to the gut health of red wine drinkers.
 
The study found that our gut bacteria consume polyphenols and produce unique metabolites that “can enhance human health benefits.”
 
Tannic acid derived from grape skins gives red wine the bitter bite that many red wine drinkers love. It’s also been used in traditional medicine to prevent infections, poisoning, and muscle soreness. There is even some evidence that tannic acid can block out the CXCR4 receptor in cells that help cancers spread [6]!
 
There is a strong gut-immunity connection. Keep your gut microbes happy and your wellness will follow!

 

Lower Risk of Obesity

 
The King’s College London study published in the journal Gastroenterology gained a lot of mainstream attention. This study partnered with the Department of Twin Research to examine the gut microbiomes of 916 female twins in the United Kingdom (UK). 
 
They compared the collection of microorganisms in the samples of red wine drinkers to:
 
White Wine Drinkers
Beer Drinkers
Spirit Drinkers
 
Results found that those who drank red wine had greater diversity in their gut microbiome, when compared to the effect of beer, white wine, and spirits. Researchers believe that a variety and abundance of different bacteria strains is attributed to lower levels of obesity
 
As explained by one of the researchers, Dr. Caroline Le Roy
 

“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.”

– Dr. Caroline Le Roy

 
With heart disease and obesity being so strongly linked, adding an occasional glass of red wine might be the recipe for a healthy lifestyle!

 

White Wine Gut Health Benefits

 
White wine is more than just a great base for sangria. It’s rich in unique antioxidants that set it apart from red wine. 
 
Just be careful with dessert white wines. The yeast doesn’t consume all the sugars, which lowers the alcohol content and increases total sugar intake
 

white wine benefits

 

Brain Health Support

 

White wine can be good for brain health…just not as you’d think. We’ll get to that in a bit.
 
This drink has unique polyphenols compared to red wine. In particular, it has specific catechins that are beneficial to brain health. 
 
Catechins produce metabolites that prevent the buildups of amyloid-β peptides, Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42 [6]. These peptides can all be biomarkers for the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. While this sounds great for brain health, this study could become of the long debated beneficial effects of white wine
 
In the study, scientists used a white wine extract. White wine actually produces a very low catechin concentration.
 
Extracts are more potent than having an alcoholic beverage. That’s because drinking wine on its own wouldn’t introduce enough of these beneficial antioxidants. These findings do give hope for using grape skins to create pharmaceutical extracts to prevent cognitive decline. 

 

Improved Cholesterol Levels

 
White wine can also be useful for those who have high cholesterol levels. However, you still must aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. 
 
One study involving 146 people at-risk for cardiovascular disease looked at the health benefits of moderate wine consumption in a randomized trial. 
 
Results found that consuming wine accelerated the cholesterol benefits of exercise. However, drinking white wine on its own didn’t have the same benefits. You need to get up and move! 

 

Better Lung Health

 
One study looked at the respiratory benefits of total alcohol consumption vs beverage specific alcohol consumption in 1,555 New Yorkers. While researchers did not find any positive association with lung function in total alcohol consumers, they did find positive associations in lung capacity in wine drinkers. 
Both red and white wine consumers seemed to have higher antioxidant content in their bloodstream and stronger lung capacity and function. The studies suggested these antioxidants helped improve the ability to take in more air and forcibly excrete it [*].

 

Potential Problems with Wine for Gut Health

 
We sometimes recommend moderate red wine consumption or a glass of white wine in the gut health insights of members in our Thryve Gut Health Program. However, there is always too much of a good thing. 
 

alcohol and gut health problems

 
There are numerous studies that tie long-term alcohol abuse to a gut imbalance, mental health issues, and chronic illness. 
 
Binge-drinking or long-term alcohol addiction can cause several GI problems including:
 
Crohn’s Disease
Colon Cancer
Type 2 Diabetes
Ulcerative Colitis
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
And More!
 
Alcohol is a potent and abrasive beverage. Pure alcohol can disinfect wounds. Imagine what it could do to your gut microbes
 
Healthier gut microbiota thrives with the right type of alcohol and when consumed responsibly. If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, never hesitate to reach out!

 

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