Just when you thought it was dangerous to consume anything delicious, researchers have come along to inject a bit of hope into our sober lives.
According to a small new study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, red wine is not only good for your heart, but it's also a great source of prebiotics which can aid in digestive health.
"Prebiotics are substances that work to promote the growth and activity of certain types of bacteria in the gut," explains Calgary-based registered dietician and owner of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc, Andrea Holwegner. "To make it simple to understand, you can think of a prebiotic as a food source for health-promoting probiotics, thought to be good for digestive health."
"One common prebiotic … is inulin which is added to foods such as yogurt and some breads and pasta. The prebiotics in red wine are called polyphenols and new research suggests they may improve the growth of multiple types of probiotics including bifidobacterium, which is a common type of healthy bacteria found in yogurt."
The New York Times reports that in the study, ten healthy males were asked to refrain from drinking any alcohol for a two-week period. They were then asked to drink one cup of red wine daily for 20 days, followed by the same amount of de-alcoholized red wine for another 20 days, followed by 100 millilitres of gin for yet another 20 day period.
Results showed a marked improvement in good intestinal bacteria growth following consumption of both versions of red wine, and only a slight improvement following the gin consumption.
"It seems from our investigation the best thing you can do for your bacterial health is treat your good bacteria to a prebiotic meal," reports a BBC story comparing prebiotics to probiotics. After studying the effects of both prebiotics and probiotics on cowboys, the BBC study found that if probiotics are well stimulated from prebiotics, they will flourish more rapidly.
Holwegner agrees that the red wine study shows promise.
"Although the sample size was very small … it does suggest that if appropriate and advised by your doctor, there may be more good reasons to include red wine in your diet," she continues. "Moderate red wine consumption of 1-2 glasses of wine per day has been shown to be beneficial for overall cardiovascular health including reducing heart disease and stroke."
Not a fan of red wine? No worries. Look to soybeans, raw oats, flaxseed, berries, garlic and tomatoes as other great sources of prebiotics.
Watch the video below about the potential health benefits of blueberries.