“To Your Health!” Not Too Far From the Truth?

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Ancient Toast May Predict the Future of Health

For thousands of years, humans have raised a glass of wine to toast each other’s health. Soon, the words “To your health!” may be more reality than wish.

University researchers in Spain have looked into a new source of probiotic bacteria: wine. And they like what they’ve seen.

Probiotics – friendly bacteria that can boost health – usually come from one of two sources: fermented dairy products or nutritional supplements. And many of the strains of bacteria in supplements are the same as those in dairy.

But the Spanish team found several other healthy strains in wine… and these may mean we could enjoy even bigger benefits from probiotics in the future.

Probiotics settle in your gut and aid digestion, boost your immune system, fight dangerous germs, and even make some vitamins your body uses. They also promote tight junctions in your bowel – helping keep toxins out of your system.

Probiotics aren’t considered essential nutrients, but when their numbers drop, you’ll know it. Gas, bloating, and diarrhea are early signs your gut microbes are out of balance. If the problem gets worse, your immune system can become compromised. And toxins may begin to flood into your system.

A poor diet and certain medications are the best-known causes of an imbalance in your “gut flora.”

Today’s typical Western diet doesn’t include a lot of probiotic foods. We don’t eat a lot of sauerkraut… or drink kefir… and even though yogurt is popular, many brands don’t have enough live cultures. Or none at all.

Plus, more and more people can’t tolerate dairy these days. And that leaves them with fewer options.

But the Spanish researchers discovered some of the healthy bacteria in wines act like the probiotics in dairy. And they survive as well – or even better – going through your digestive system.

They also discovered one healthy strain common in wine sticks very well to your intestinal lining. That strain is also very effective against E. coli – a major cause of sickness.

Before you head for the wine cellar, the researchers added a word of caution. There aren’t a lot of friendly bacteria in just glass or two of wine. You see, most wine is treated with sulfites as a stabilizing agent. “This sulfating” also kills many of the healthy bacteria naturally found in wine.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no good news. Another group of Spanish researchers looked at the effects of wine in a different way.

This 2nd group studied if – and how – drinking red wine might change the mix of bacteria in your gut. And they discovered that drinking a little wine regularly changed the mix of bacteria for the better.

The change in healthy bacteria also appeared to promote healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure… as well as lower levels of C-reactive protein, a risk factor for heart trouble.2

Of course, if you don’t drink wine, don’t start. But if you do, red wine appears to have greater health benefits than white. Choosing an unsulfated wine may provide higher levels of healthy bacteria. And, please, drink in moderation.

Yours in continued good health,

Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.


1 García-Ruiz, A., et al, “Assessment of probiotic properties in lactic acid bacteria isolated from wine,” Food Microbiology. Dec 2014; 44: 220-225.

2 Queipo-Ortuño, M.I., et al, “Influence of red wine polyphenols and ethanol on the gut microbiota ecology and biochemical biomarkers,” Am J Clin Nutr. Jun 2012; 95(6): 1323-1334.


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