Moderate consumption of red wine helped to promote better diversity within the gut microbiome, which could contribute to the libation’s many reported health benefits, according to study results.
“While we have long known 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,” Caroline I. Le Roy, PhD, of the department of twin research and genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said in a press release.
Researchers used 16S rRNA sequencing to explore the impact of red wine, as well as other alcoholic drinks like beer, cider, white wine and spirits, on the gut microbiome in several large, population-based cohorts.
In their discovery cohort, they explored the impact of alcohol in 916 women (TwinsUK) using a model adjusted for age, BMI, health eating index, education and family structure. They determined alcohol consumption using food frequency questionnaires that reported the average number of glasses consumed monthly.
Investigators found that red wine consumption was associated in a frequency dependent manner with greater alpha-diversity in the gut microbiome. However, even rare consumption had an impact.
Although white wine had a “suggestive positive” association with alpha-diversity, it was much less than the one researchers observed in red wine. They found no associations with other alcohols. Researchers also observed the association between red wine and microbiome diversity in two other cohorts based in The Netherlands and the United States.
Le Roy and colleagues believe the health benefits of red wine could be attributed to its high concentration of polyphenols, which can fuel the microbes in the in the gut. While white wines also contain polyphenols, they are six to seven times less concentrated than red wine.
“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,” Le Roy said in the release. “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.” – by Alex Young
Disclosures: Le Roy reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.