One of the characteristics of red wine is that it is rich in a group of micronutrients called polyphenols, particularly when compared to other alcoholic drinks such as beer and white wine. Polyphenols are present in a wide range of plant-based foods and have long been associated with a number of health and wellbeing benefits including improved digestion and cardiovascular health.
A recent scientific study published in the journal Gastroenterology and featured by the BBC, claims that even two glasses of red wine a month might be sufficient to boost gut health. Reports that link alcohol consumption with health benefits are usually treated cautiously, lest they provoke excessive consumption. This research found that in three independent cohort studies, red wine drinkers had greater diversity in helpful gut bacteria than non-red wine drinkers. Although this study demonstrated a simple correlation, the evidence is mounting that a number of physical and mental health conditions (Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, obesity, and even depression) are linked to the range of bacteria in our digestive tract. It should be stressed that none of the participants in the research were identified as ‘heavy drinkers’.
In summary, the initial findings are that moderate amounts of red wine consumption are correlated with increased diversity in gut bacteria. And in turn, increased diversity in gut bacteria is linked to a number of health benefits. However, the wider picture is that the composition of our gut microbiota can be influenced by a range of factors. Therefore any single element, such as red wine consumption must be seen in relation to diet and lifestyle in general.