Drinking the odd glass of red wine could aid gut health

Cropped shot of a couple making a toast while on a romantic date
Moderate red wine consumption could hold gut health benefits. [Photo: Getty]

Drinking red wine occasionally could be good for your gut, a new study has found.

Scientists at King's College London discovered the link while researching the effects of various alcohols – effects of beer, cider, red wine, white wine and spirits – on gut health.

The research, which was conducted on 916 female twins based in the UK, found an increase in gut microbiota diversity - a sign of gut health - compared to those who drank other types of alcohol.

Improved gut health is linked to the prevention of a number of health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and cancer, according to Guts Charity.

The findings, published in journal Gastroenterology, may therefore support “moderate” red wine consumption, with researchers suggesting once a fortnight should be enough to see the benefits.

It was speculated by study authors that this was down red wine’s high amount of polyphenols, a chemical which acts as an antioxidant.

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We already know moderate red wine drinking is linked to health benefits such as lowering stress.

But the link with red wine and gut health is new, and could shed light on other “unexplained benefits” of the beverages,” says Dr Caroline Le Roy, first author of the findings.

"While we have long known of 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," she told Press Association.

Red wine: Good for our health?

Commenting on the study findings, Dr Sadie Boniface, research co-ordinator at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, warns against drinking red wine “on medical grounds”

"No doctor would recommend drinking on medical grounds, as any potential benefits of red wine polyphenols should be considered alongside alcohol's links to over 200 health conditions, including heart disease and cancers as identified in the Chief Medical Officer's guidelines review," she said.

READ MORE: Red or white? What your wine choice says about you

She adds that polyphenols can be found in sources besides red wine. Cocoa powder and blueberries are known sources of polyphenols, according to Heathline.

‘Choose red wine’ over other alcohols

Many of us try to be mindful of our drinking habits, for the sake of our waistlines and overall health.

But the new research shows that if you do enjoy alcohol every now and again, you should opt for a warm glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, or your personal favourite red – in order to reap benefits for your gut.

"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," Dr Le Roy added.

"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.

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"However, it is still advised to consume alcohol with moderation."

Meanwhile, moderate prosecco drinking has been linked to health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and aiding lung function.

According to the NHS alcohol units recommendation, men and women should not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis. If you are worried about your alcohol intake, you can take a self-assessment test on the Drink Aware website.