Oenophiles, take heart: red wine is good for your gut!
Adults in the United States consume an astonishing 900 million gallons of wine every year. If you count yourself among the many millions that enjoy a nice glass of this popular fermentation, you’ll be happy to know that partaking in your beloved habit isn’t all in vain when it comes to your health. In fact, it turns out that your daily glass of vino may be providing you with more benefits than you think.
In addition to some of the more well-known advantages of drinking red wine—like heart health, blood sugar control, lower cholesterol, and a boost of antioxidants—it turns out that this delicious beverage can also positively impact your gut health.
Indeed, research shows that red wine consumption can benefit that all important “organ,” your mighty microbiome.
Your Amazing Gut Microbiome
Our microbiome consists of the trillions of bacteria living in and on our body. Working together with our body’s cells and organs, our good guy bacteria in our gut (called probiotics) help to balance our blood sugar, optimize our immune system, regulate our metabolism, and reduce stress, among many other things.
These hard working probiotics make up the vast majority of a balanced microbiome (about 85%), which enables them to stay in control and support our health from the inside out. Unfortunately, this balance can be hard to achieve and maintain in this day and age.
What can create an imbalance? Anything that depletes our beneficial bacteria—like antibiotics in our food supply and as medicine, processed foods, sugar, antibacterial cleaners, and environmental chemicals—can throw our microbiome out of whack.
Fortunately, red wine can help to replenish the good bacteria you rely on for so many health-sustaining functions.
Red Wine for Improved Gut Health
Red wine is chock full of antioxidants called polyphenols that can keep blood vessels flexible, boost immunity, and scavenge free radicals. And resveratrol—from red grape skins—can balance glucose levels and blood pressure, halt plaque formation in the brain, and even prevent fat cell growth.
But, did you know that red wine can also quell temporary inflammation and increase levels of beneficial bacteria in your gut? In one study, researchers gave middle-aged men nine ounces of red wine for twenty days. At the end of the trial, subjects had significantly higher levels of bifidobacteria, a vital lactic acid probiotic that can help with everything from lactose digestion and enzyme and vitamin production to secretion of short chain fatty acids and antimicrobial compounds that reduce temporary inflammation and ward off inhospitable microbes.1
In another study, scientists isolated 11 strains of bacteria from wine and tested the microbes’ ability to survive the harsh conditions of the GI tract. Not only did the strains stay alive, but one particular strain—P. pentosaceus CIAL-86—showed excellent adhesion to the intestinal wall and good antibacterial activity against hostile invaders like E. coli.2
Dutch researchers also came to similar conclusions when sequencing the gut microbiomes of more than 1,000 subjects; red wine consumption increases gut biodiversity, a marker of microbiome balance and health.3
Clearly, red wine can have a positive effect on your gut microbiome, but if a margarita is more your style, don’t worry—tequila may benefit your gut health as well! Tequila is made from the blue agave plant, and research shows that special sugars called agave fructans act as prebiotics, nourishing and increasing numbers of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.4
Supporting Gut Health...Beyond Booze
Even though research shows that certain components of red wine and tequila can support your friendly flora, the alcohol in these drinks can cancel out any benefits: this is why moderation is key. You see, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to gut barrier breaches and an out of balance microbial population.5
So cheers to knowing that we can indulge in a delicious adult beverage now and then and expect some benefit to our microbes! If you’d like to take it a step further and fully optimize your gut and overall health, here are three simple tips to put you well on your way:
1. Take a daily probiotic supplement. A multi-strain, effective probiotic formula like Hyperbiotics PRO-15 will seed your digestive tract with billions of beneficial bacteria ready to become the foundation of your health.
2. Overhaul your diet. A whole food diet high in plant-based foods and free of pesticides and preservatives is exactly what your microbiome craves. Focus on healthy fats (like coconut oil), plenty of nutrient-rich, colorful vegetables, and prebiotics, fibers that only our gut flora can digest. Good prebiotic sources include asparagus, bananas, oats, and honey—or try a prebiotic powder blend that you can add to any beverage.
3. Live a gut-healthy life. From steering clear of probiotic depleters to spending time relaxing and enjoying the microbe-rich outdoors (just get dirty!), total gut health goes beyond supplements and diet. Making the choice every day to live in harmony with your microbial friends is the key to lifelong well-being.
Making health-forward choices can sometimes feel like a sacrifice, but isn’t it wonderful to know that enjoying a glass or two of red wine with friends and family—especially when combined with a gut-healthy lifestyle—is a habit that helps keep the microscopic friends in your gut thriving? So, cheers again to enjoying your libation (and supporting your microbiome in the process) on your path to your healthiest, happiest days!References:
1. Clemente-Postigo, M., Queipo-Ortuno, M. I., Boto-Ordonez, M., Coin-Araguez, L., Roca-Rodriguez, M. D., Delgado-Lista, J., . . . Tinahones, F. J. (2013). Effect of acute and chronic red wine consumption on lipopolysaccharide concentrations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(5), 1053-1061.
2. García-Ruiz, A., Llano, D. G., Esteban-Fernández, A., Requena, T., Bartolomé, B., & Moreno-Arribas, M. V. (2014). Assessment of probiotic properties in lactic acid bacteria isolated from wine. Food Microbiology, 44, 220-225.
3. Zhernakova, A., Kurilshikov, A., Bonder, M. J., Tigchelaar, E. F., Schirmer, M., Vatanen, T., . . . Fu, J. (2016). Population-based metagenomics analysis reveals markers for gut microbiome composition and diversity. Science, 352(6285), 565-569.
4. Gomez, E., Tuohy, K., Gibson, G., Klinder, A., & Costabile, A. (2009). In vitro evaluation of the fermentation properties and potential prebiotic activity of Agave fructans. Journal of Applied Microbiology. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2672.2009.04617.x
5. Rajendram, R., & Preedy, V. R. (2006). Effect of Alcohol Consumption on the Gut. Digestive Diseases, 23(3-4), 214-221.
Emily Courtney is a Writer and Editor at Hyperbiotics and mom to two fun and active boys. Emily is passionate about natural wellness and helping others learn about the power of probiotics for vibrant health! For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.