Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wham: Red Wine and Grape Juice Works Hand-in-Hand With Probiotic Bacteria to Protect Against Food-Borne Disease

Anyone who reads about healthcare issues knows that red wine can be a healthy drink if consumed in moderation. New facts seem to be coming out all the time . . . researchers are now discovering more about the benefits of red wine, including the fact that these beneficial compounds in the grape work in cooperation with probiotic bacteria in the gut.

Researchers at the University of Missouri (Columbia, MO) have found that certain compounds in red wine and grape juice are anti-microbial in nature, and work to neutralize pathogens carried into the body by the food we eat. What I found most fascinating about this research is the fact that while examining the inhibitory effects of these grape products, scientists discovered that these biochemicals in the wine do not harm the "good" bacteria which reside in the gut (probiotic bacteria). They can somehow recognize pathogenic bacteria, however! Probiotic bacteria naturally reside in the body and can be very beneficial in combating disease, high-cholesterol, and--some say--even tumors. It is interesting that the wine counteracts harmful bacteria, but leaves the good bacteria alone to do its job.

Certain red wines were more beneficial against food-borne pathogens than others. Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel, for example, had the highest ability to defend against pathogens (while protecting the good bacteria). The pathogens the researchers where testing against included E. coli, Salmonella Typhimurium, Listeria monocytogenes and H. pylori. E. coli and Listeria can be fatal. According to the authors, one of the most promising results involved Helicobacter pylori, which can be transmitted via food and water; it is also known as the main cause of stomach ulcers:

“Our study is a little different than those previously reported in the media. Those studies promote moderate red wine consumption for cardiovascular diseases,” she said. “We went a step farther and asked: If red wine is already good for cardiovascular diseases, what about food-borne pathogens? If you get a food-borne illness and drink red wine, will that help decrease the symptoms a little bit? This study showed that the four probiotics tested weren’t inhibited by red wines; the pathogens were," reported one of them to Science News.

Although many white wines also were tested, they yielded no positive results. After reading this report, wine drinkers need to realize that the "health benefits" claim is simply an excuse when opening a bottle of white wine with dinner!


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