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article imageDoes red wine have health benefits?

By Tim Sandle     Oct 1, 2016 in Science
The balance of evidence in relation to red wine and health benefits oscillates wildly. New research indicates that a compound in red wine might help the body to counteract some metabolic diseases.
Studies that favour the health benefits of red wine focus on a substance called resveratrol. This substance has been linked with decreasing the risk of developing certain metabolic diseases. This has been borne out of studies by microbiologists and chemists from the Third Military Medical University in China.
The basis of the research is that resveratrol can alter the range of bacteria found in the human gut microbiome in a positive way. The fact that the composition of the microbiota of the gut can exert a positive of negative influence on human health has been borne out in a number of studies.
Take, for example, the longstanding concern with the consumption of red meat. Back in 2013 scientists at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute managed to persuade vegetarians and vegans to eat steak. By studying gut bacteria before and after, the research showed a change in the microbial profile favoured organisms that produce precursors of a chemical called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). This compound is connected to heart disease.
With the research into the red wine compound research group treated a group of mice with resveratrol and studied them for changes to their gut microbes. Speaking with Bioscience Technology, the lead researcher Professor Man-tian Mi said: “We found that resveratrol can remodel the gut microbiota including increasing the Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes ratios, significantly inhibiting the growth of Prevotella, and increasing the relative abundance of Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Akkermansia in mice.” (The latter being names of bacteria associated with possible good health effects.)
Essentially this means the compound alters the types and numbers of bacteria in a positive way. In particular, mice given the compound had less TMAO circulating in their blood. These results suggest that red wine might help prevent heart disease by targeting the same pathway through which red meat promotes development of heart disease. This will need further study.
However, because the chemical is found in red wine this does not necessarily mean the human body is capable of processing it in a way that leads to the indicative health benefits.
The research has been published in the journal mBio. The research paper is 2 Resveratrol Attenuates Trimethylamine-N-Oxide (TMAO)-Induced Atherosclerosis by Regulating TMAO Synthesis and Bile Acid Metabolism via Remodeling of the Gut Microbiota.”
More about Resveratrol, Red wine, Wine, Heart health
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