Steering clear of foods and drinks that are bad for your gut means avoiding stomach upsets, weight gain, and fatigue — but it can also mean sacrificing guilty pleasures like sugar and fried foods. The good news? One indulgent drink you don’t have to completely rule out is red wine. In fact, research reveals a surprising connection between moderate red wine consumption and improved gut health.
Diving Into the Research
A 2019 study published in Gastroenterology observed how alcohol affects the gut microbiome (GM) and overall health. The GM is a collection of microorganisms that live in your digestive system and are responsible for protecting your body against viral infections.
The research team from the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London recruited 916 female twins for this study. They focused on the participants’ regular intake of beer, cider, red wine, white wine, or other spirits and its impact on the diversity of their gut’s bacteria — which boost the GM’s healthy function.
Researchers found that moderate red wine drinkers were linked with having more variety in their gut bacteria as compared to other drinking groups.
The reason? Red wine is made with grape skins, which are rich in nutritional compounds called polyphenols. These compounds have been shown to help reduce oxidative stress in the body.
Plus, the authors credit polyphenols for encouraging “good” gut bacteria growth for red wine- drinking participants. Not getting enough healthy bacteria can lead to poor gut health and bothersome symptoms such as digestive problems, sugar cravings, and sleep issues.
The Limitations of This Study
Lead author and professor of genetic epidemiology Tim Spector says in a press release,“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 (the UK, US, and Belgium).”
But the full study isn’t widely available, which is a significant limitation since it means key details aren’t stated in the press release.
Additionally, the age range of the participant pool isn’t clearly outlined – and previous research suggests that age-related factors like increased inflammation and weakened immune responses negatively alter the diversity of bacteria in your GM. It’s hard to grasp whether the red wine made a huge difference due to participants being older or not.
There was also limited information on how researchers collected data to find out the participants’ drinking habits and the duration of the study. Plus, researchers were making observations in the study based on associations between alcohol intake and GM rather than a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
“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,” Caroline Le Roy, PHD, notes in the press release. “However, it is still advised to consume alcohol with moderation.”
What This Means for You
It’s clear that red wine is a worthy option for a gut-friendly alcoholic drink. The American Heart Association defines moderate red wine consumptions as a 5-ounce glass (or 150 milliliters) daily for women. So, a little goes a long way for safe sipping.
Looking to shop around for the perfect red? Start one of these tasty options — one budget-friendly and the other for special occasions:
- 1924 Port Barrel Aged Pinot Noir (Find near you at 1924Wines.com, under $20): This wine’s flavor notes include blackberry and cocoa alongside complex spiced aromas. Pair it with Pecorino Romano cheese and almonds, roasted beef tenderloin, or a piece of dark chocolate.
- Jajaja – Glou Glou Red Wine (Buy from DrinkTinto.com, $45): A keto-friendly wine with “juicy exotic cola berry spice, rhubarb, and bramble” and a cashmere mouthfeel. This wine is also vegan, contains no sugar, and is low in sulfites – making it a guilt-free addition to your next party menu.eq
This research gives red wine lovers another reason to rejoice. However, it’s best to speak with your doctor before making dietary changes to boost your gut health. Trust us, your gut will thank you later!