Why red wine drinkers have healthier guts

Kombucha. Kvass. Keifer. Bone broth. There are plenty of drinks that encourage good bacteria to throw a party in your microbiome. But there are also plenty of drinks that cause bad bacteria to crash that party…

Soda. Diet drinks. Sugary juices. Alcohol.

Alcohol specifically causes dysbiosis (an unhealthy imbalance) in the gut and oral microbiome. But wait a sec…

What about red wine?

It contains alcohol, but it also contains healthy antioxidants that reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and cancer. So, is it good or bad for your gut health?

Well, if you enjoy unwinding on your patio with a glass of Malbec and the latest Patricia Cornwell page-turner, I have good news. That Malbec is making your microbiome a happier, healthier place.

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Red wine drinkers have more diverse microbiomes

Researchers from King’s College London just confirmed that drinking red wine improves diversity in your microbiome.

The study included 916 female twins. Researchers compared gut diversity in those who drank red wine to gut diversity in those who preferred other alcoholic drinks.

Red wine drinkers had more diverse microbiomes, a sign of good gut health. Researchers wanted to make sure the connection between red wine and microbiome diversity wasn’t a fluke, so they examined gut health in other red wine drinkers in the U.K., U.S. and Netherlands.  All in all, they examined the microbiomes of nearly 3,000 different people and got the same results — red wine does a microbiome good.

In fact, researchers think red wine’s impact on the microbiome is responsible for its other health benefits…

According to Dr. Caroline Le Roy from King’s College London, “While we have long known of the unexplained benefits of red wine on heart health, this study shows that moderate red wine consumption is associated with greater diversity and a healthier gut microbiota that partly explain its long-debated beneficial effects on health.”

Could these benefits, as well as the heart health benefits, be attributed to that one much-researched compound of red winter — resveratrol?

Other studies have shown that resveratrol can help lead to lower body weight and body fat and improved glucose metabolism. That research attributes these benefits to the positive effects of resveratrol on the gut microbiome.

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Drink to a better microbiome

Whenever I talk about the health benefits of alcohol, there’s always a disclaimer…

They only apply if you practice moderation. Start downing a bottle of merlot every night and all potential health benefits are out the window.

If you’re a woman, moderate means sticking to one glass of red wine per night. If you’re a man, you should cap your nightly consumption at two.

But if you do follow these red wine-drinking best practices, it seems like your microbiome (and overall health) will be better for it. If you’re not much of a red wine drinker right now but you’d like to become one for the sake of your gut health, here are some readily available reds to look for:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Gamay
  • Grenache/Garnacha
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Mourvèdre/Mataro
  • Nebbiolo
  • Pinot Noir
  • Sangiovese
  • Syrah/Shiraz
  • Zinfandel

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  1. Red wine benefits linked to better gut health, study finds — MedicalXpress
  2. The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota — Alcohol Research
  3. Drinking alcohol is associated with variation in the human oral microbiome in a large study of American adults — Microbiome
  4. Red Wine Information & Basics — Wine Enthusiast
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.