With September a matter of days away and summer feeling like a distant memory, we’re knocking on the door of autumn. Bake Off has started and Strictly Come Dancing isn’t too far away, meaning it’s nearly time to hang up my sandals once more and swap my nice top and jeans for cosy PJ’s and a blanket. And whether I’m alone or with friends, my favourite chilled night companion is a glass of wine. If you’re partial to a glass of red at the end of the week you might be in luck. A study has found that red wine could be good for your gut and there’s science to back it up.
I may accompany my red wine with a massive chunk of stilton, which isn't the healthiest, but a study has revealed that in moderation red wine can be good for your gut health. The research conducted at King's College London found that a glass can increase the number of good types of bacteria that live in your gut. The research found that benefits are likely to come from polyphenols, which can also be found in some fruit and vegetables. While this isn’t an excuse to drink too much and certainly can’t be used to explain why you ended up dancing on a table at your friends house warming party these benefits can’t be seen in white wine, beer, or cider.
Speaking to the BBC Dr Caroline Le Roy who worked on the study said, “this is an observational study, so we cannot prove that the effect we see is caused by red wine. 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.” So, a glass here and there might actually help rather than hinder you.
While bacteria is often seen as a bad thing Professor David Cunningham explained on the Royal Marsden website that good gut bacteria or your microbiome is crucial to your health, mood, and general wellbeing. He said, “in the future, we could potentially alter the microbiome to reduce the risk of this cancer occurring. Learning more about the microbiome could also help facilitate diagnosis and improve treatment options for patients, with fewer side effects.”
The research conducted at King’s College London and published in the academic journal Gastroenterology explained that polyphenols, which is a micronutrient which can be found in red grapes, can help as fuel for the trillions of good bacteria in your gut that help keep you healthy. The study looked at thousands of participants in the UK, U.S., and the Netherlands and found that the bacteria living in the gut of regular red wine drinkers was typically more diverse.
Dr Caroline Le Roy said on the BBC, "we are starting to know more and more about gut bacteria. It is complex, and we need more research, but we know that the more diversity there is, the better it appears to be for our health."
So, the key to a healthy gut may be a glass of red wine every now and again. But crucially, in moderation. The study found that one glass of wine every two weeks could have an effect. While this new research won’t be an excuse to get another bottle of red in on thirsty Thursdays it’s definitely food for thought.