Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wham: Red Wine Again in the News

There's new information out about the value of moderate amounts of red wine. In this case, it is shown as a benefit for a healthy smile.

Scientists have found that certain compounds in red wine could play a role in preventing gum disease and tooth loss. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research in Orlando, Florida.

Researchers from Laval University in Quebec, Canada, studied the effect of extracts from red wines on different types of periodontal disease, all of which affect the gums and bone around the teeth. (Periodontal disease affects more than two-thirds of adults over 50 and one in seven people aged between 21 and 50). This disease can often lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

Polyphenols are compounds that are found in the skin and seeds of grapes, and they have long been studied by researchers, including this team from Laval, for their health benefits. When wine is made from grapes, the alcohol produced by the fermentation process dissolves the polyphenols. Red wine is the one with the health benefits, because white wine does not contain as many polyphenols. The production process for white wine involves removing the skins after the grapes have been crushed.

When extracts of Bordeaux wine were used to treat periodontal bacteria in laboratory conditions, the Quebec scientists found that the polyphenols had a "significant inhibitory" effect on the growth of the bacteria. They concluded that the compounds could help to prevent the spread of gum diseases. However, the experts also found that too much of these polyphenols can have a toxic effect on other cells in the mouth. They are now working to determine ways to harness the benefits from red wine extracts without the risks.

Still red wine has had a great deal of recent publicity. This wine has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease, again because of the polyphenols it contains. Red wine has also been found to be a good source of fibre, which can help to prevent bowel cancer. And last month, Italian scientists found that feeding fish a certain polyphenol in red wine, resveratrol, extended their lives by up to 60 per cent.


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