A Glass Of Red Wine Every Day Is Good For Your Gut Health!

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Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

Does Wine Help With Digestion

Your gut well-being refers to the functions and balance of bacteria in the different parts of the gastrointestinal tract, which comprise major organs, including the esophagus, stomach, and intestines, as well as the enzymes secreted by these organs. 

Environmental and lifestyle factors have led to the compromise of gut health for most of the world population. Many people have upset their gut microbiome from diet changes, stress, excessive hygiene practices, misuse of antibiotics, and exposure to toxins in nature. An unbalanced microbiome[1] affects nutrient absorption, digestion, and metabolism functions.

For hundreds of years, red wine has been part of religious, cultural, and social events among numerous communities across the globe. Red wines, made from crushing and fermenting juice from dark grape skin, will vary in color from intense violet of young varieties to brick red for the mature and brown for the aged red.

Unlike white wine, red wine is highly rich in resveratrol and polyphenols that promote metabolism by 70 to 90 minutes which burns calories faster to provide energy. As mentioned in the Bible 1 Timothy 5:23, drinking one glass of wine with your meals is a great way to boost digestion and your overall health.

Does Wine Help with Digestion?

Red wine[2] is a rich source of digestive probiotics, including bifidobacterium, bacteroides, prevotella, and enterococcus. These wines promote a healthy digestive system by activating the enzymes required to digest fats and proteins while stimulating the production of certain vitamins. 

While research from Caroline Le Roy[3] of King’s College London shows that wine is beneficial in creating more microbiome diversity, other studies show that the alcohol content in wine is harmful to human health[4]. High alcohol levels in the bloodstream increase the risk of irregular heartbeat, blood pressure, and stroke. 

5 Ways That Red Wine Helps with Digestion  

Stimulates Secretion of Digestive Juices

Red wine stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva to commence the digestion process.  In the stomach, wine triggers the release of gastric juices and enzymes to digest the food. In turn, this increases the production of hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and bile for easy digestion. Pepsin breaks down protein into amino acids, while bile breaks down fats for easy absorption into the bloodstream to promote metabolism.

Boosts Good Gut Bacteria

The human gut microbiome comprises trillions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. An imbalance between the good and bad microbes can lead to high cholesterol, chronic heart disease, and an impaired immune response. Polyphenols[2], found in higher concentrations in dark grapes, increase gut microbiota diversity by fueling the microbes in your system.

Red wine increases bifidobacterium, a vital[5] lactic acid probiotic in the gut that supports the digestion of lactose, which declines in adults due to the decline in production of lactase enzymes as we age. Bifidobacterium also works with the body to produce chemicals that discourage the growth of unfriendly microbes, increase the production of Vitamins B and K, and stimulate acetic acid that keeps yeast and mold growth under control.

Lowers the Risk of Harmful Digestive Chemicals

Drinking red wine helps to convert harmful chemicals produced during digestion into potentially less dangerous molecules before they are circulated in the body. The skin of dark grapes used in the fermentation of red wine contains polyphenols that trigger the release of nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes the stomach lining helping to optimize digestion and absorption of nitric oxide in the bloodstream to dilate arteries, lower blood pressure, and improve the overall heart health. 

Eliminates Stomach Infections

Creating a balanced microbiome in the stomach prevents the growth of pathogens and bacteria that cause gut infections. It is estimated that over 37.2 million people[6] visit the doctor every year with digestive complaints, including irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and diarrhea. Individuals who drink wine can alleviate these illnesses mainly by increasing good gut microbiota.

Protects Your Dental Health

The presence of oral bacteria in the mouth causes bad breath, cavities, and gum diseases. Although brushing and dental floss are a solution to promoting good dental and oral hygiene, a glass of red wine can significantly prevent the growth of bacteria that causes plagues, pre-dental diseases, and cavities. 

A new study[7] shows that polyphenols found in grape skin lead to lower levels of harmful bacteria in the gum. Research is ongoing towards the development of wine-inspired mouthwash and toothpaste containing antioxidants, which will be a relief to people who experience bad breath.

Top Red Wine Choices for Improved Digestion

Red wines are created differently from the choice of grapes to the fermentation process and the years of aging. Dry red wine is fermented longer; hence contains a higher level of polyphenols that have greater health benefits. Furthermore, red wine drinkers enjoy better health!

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is considered one of the healthiest red wine varieties to drink alongside any meal. The pinot grapes have thin skin and contain high resveratrol levels, an antioxidant that lowers bad cholesterol in the gut system. This antioxidant has been shown to have great health benefits, among them improved insulin sensitivity and brain health.

Merlot

Merlot is a medium-bodied wine and the second most popular in the world. It contains high amounts of resveratrol[8] and procyanidin, which eliminate bad cholesterol. Merlot wines also contain anti-inflammatory properties that ease inflammation in the gastrointestinal system caused by acid reflux of gastric juices spilling to the esophagus.

Cabernet

Cabernet is a full-bodied red wine variety with notes of dark fruits. It has a fairly high concentration of resveratrol, which keeps sugar levels in your body low. Furthermore, cabernet wines have high anthocyanin flavonoids that nurture human health[9] by balancing gut bacteria and the intestinal ecosystem.

Sagrantino

Sagrantino wines are made from rare dark-grape skin that researchers[10] believe contains the most antioxidant properties. High tannins play a pivotal role in promoting more diversity of gut microbiota, thus creating a healthy interaction among molecules in the gastrointestinal tract, which could be affected by enzymes and other lifestyle factors.

Precautions to be Observed when Drinking Red Wine

Moderation is Key

Even with its benefits in maintaining a balanced gut microbiome, red wine contains a varying percentage of alcohol hence should be consumed sparingly. Researchers recommend taking at least 1-2 glasses of wine for men and 1-1.5[11] for women. A small study from King’s College London cautions against drinking alcohol in excess amounts as it triggers depression.

Do not Drink on Empty Stomach

Wine contains alcohol, and like any other alcoholic beverage, it can put you at risk for alcoholism, heart disease, diabetes, and liver cirrhosis.  People who suffer from digestive weaknesses should not consume wine with a high alcohol percentage as it weakens the gastrointestinal system further. Drinking on an empty stomach without eating further exacerbates problems. Your drinking habits could cause you gastric distress!

Drink Red Wine to Improve Your Well Being

With modern researchers[12] highlighting the health benefits of drinking wine, the advice and the wine should be taken in moderation. Besides digesting food and absorbing nutrients, the gut is the medium of communication between the brain and the body, influencing major physiological functions. While moderate wine consumption may be healthy, too much alcohol can damage the gut, upset the microbiome, and adversely affect human health.

Maintaining a healthy diet alongside a glass of wine will mature your microbiome and boost your health. It is best to drink red wine the traditional Mediterranean way, with a rich vegetable, protein meal with fruits, and healthy fats to achieve the maximum benefit.

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NCVC Staff

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