Great News: Red Wine Could Actually Boost Your Gut Health
Most of us have heard we should be drinking red wine for its heart health benefits, but a new study out of King's College London gives us just one more reason to enjoy our favorite vino—better gut health. A group of researchers studied the gut-health impacts of beer, cider, red wine, white wine and spirits on nearly 1000 female twins and found that red wine drinkers had a more diverse microbiome than non-red wine drinkers. Beer, white wine and spirits didn't have a positive impact on gut health.
"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," lead author Caroline LeRoy, MD, said in a King's College press release.
The authors of this study believe the main reason for this positive association between red wine and gut health is due to the polyphenols found in red grape skin—also thought to be the reason for improved heart health. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant found in plant foods that may help protect against certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some neurodegenerative disorders. Additionally, this study found that red wine consumption was associated with lower levels of obesity and "bad" cholesterol.
"This is one of the largest ever studies to explore the effects of red wine in the guts of nearly three thousand people in three different countries and provides insights that the high levels of polyphenols in the grape skin could be responsible for much of the controversial health benefits when used in moderation," said lead author Tim Spector.
Related: Health Benefits of Drinking Wine
The Bottom Line
According to LeRoy, simply drinking red wine as little as once every two weeks is enough to offer the gut health boost, and our government defines moderation as one drink a day for women and two for men.
"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," LeRoy says. "However, it is still advised to consume alcohol with moderation."
But if you don't currently drink, there's no need to start just to reap the gut health benefits—you'd be better off opting for some probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi or kefir, instead. You could also enjoy other foods that contain polyphenols, like apples, chocolate, olive oil and turmeric.