Indulging in red wine may be beneficial for our gut microbiota. This is suggested by studies scientists at King’s college London published in recent weeks (Le Roy et al. 2019). They looked at the effect of different alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, or cider on bacterial diversity in the gut.
The collection of bacteria living in our gut is called the gut microbiota. Scores of scientific studies have already shown that the diversity of these gut microbes plays an important role in how we digest food and for our metabolism, may lower cholesterol and strengthen our immune system, thus contributing to human health. Similarly, patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, diabetes, or skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or psoriasis were often shown to be deficient in healthy gut bacteria – notwithstanding of the fact that in these skin conditions, bacterial diversity of the skin microbiota is similarly reduced.
The scientists also found that only red wine resulted in changes to the diversity of healthy gut bacteria, while beer, cider, and white wine had no effect. This is due the polyphenols found in many kinds of fruit and vegetables. They are also contained in grape skin which in red wine – differing from white wine – are fermented with the must. The effect on the microbiome could be observed even after ingesting only a small glass of red wine.
However, sensationalist headlines such as “Red wine is good for the gut, UK study finds”, published in some places, distort the scientific findings. Red wine as such is not necessarily beneficial for your health. As far as we know, the alcohol contained in wine has no positive effect on the gut microbiome. Quite the contrary: Too much alcohol may be detrimental to our digestive organs, the gut flora, and the general healthy bacterial diversity in our body. As the magazine Focus writes, the study’s findings should not be considered a “carte blanche: Excessive alcohol consumption is far more detrimental to your body than beneficial for your gut flora – and this includes red wine.”
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