In a recent study by the Kings College London, scientists investigated the effect of beer, cider, red wine, white wine and spirits on the gut microbiome (GM) and subsequent health in a group of 916 UK female twins.
They found that consuming red wine is related to greater diversity and more beneficial gut microbiota. The discovery clarifies its long-debated beneficial effects on health.
When tested, scientists noticed that the gut microbiota of red wine consumers contained a higher number of different bacterial species compared to than non-consumers.
During the study, scientists also considered participants’ other factors such as age, weight, the regular diet and socioeconomic status of the participants and continued to see the association.
According to scientists, the main reason for the association is due to the many polyphenols in red wine. Polyphenols are defense chemicals naturally present in many fruits and vegetables. They have many beneficial properties (including antioxidants) and mainly act as a fuel for the microbes present in our system.
The study also found that red wine consumption was associated with lower levels of obesity and ‘bad’ cholesterol, which was in part due to the gut microbiota.
Lead author Professor Tim Spector said: “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.”
The first author of the study, Dr. Caroline Le Roy said, “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. However, it is still advised to consume alcohol with moderation.”
The National Institute of Health-funded the TwinsUK microbiota project. TwinsUK is funded by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, European Union, The CDRF, The Denise Coates Foundation and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) through the NIHR BioResource and the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre.
The study is published in the journal Gastroenterology.