Whenever a study emerges to herald the health benefits of drinking any kind of alcohol, it’s often met with a bit of skepticism. (Oh, I see that one’s from the University Of Robert Mondavi!) After all, when it comes to scientific assessments of what drinking does to the body, you tend to hear a lot more about the downsides of drinking than the hypothetical positives. But when it comes to wine, there’s a fair amount of evidence out there suggesting that enjoyment in moderation can be physically beneficial.
A recent study conducted by researchers at King’s College in London found that drinking a small glass of red wine per day could help to diversify the gut bacteria that govern many bodily functions. Researchers interviewed “almost a thousand” female twins in the U.K. about their food/drink habits and gut bacteria diversity, and compared those findings against the results of similar studies conducted in the U.S. and Belgium.
While only this most recent study focused specifically on twins, the results were the same across the multiple studies:
We found that drinking red wine (even if combined with other alcohols) is linked with an increase in gut bacteria diversity in all three countries. And as a check on other possible genetic or family biases, we also found that twins who drank more red wine than their co-twin also had more diverse gut bacteria. White wine drinkers who should be socially and culturally similar had no significant differences in diversity, as did drinkers of other types of alcohol, like beer and spirits.
The particular value of red wine comes from the presence of polyphenols, nutrients proven to stimulate natural defense mechanisms. As the researchers note, red wine is particularly rich in them: “In grape, polyphenols are mostly found in the skins that are in much longer contact in the making of red wine than white.” While the study is careful not to declare causality, their findings still make a compelling case for the biological value of a little red wine.
Also, if you’re as intrigued as we are by the twin science emerging from the study, the twins who drank red wine “had lower levels of obesity and ‘bad’ cholesterol” as well. Twins of the world who are looking for that ever-crucial one-up: You now have another tactic in your arsenal.