What is the impact of red wine on our gut microbiota?

Thanks to their antioxidant properties, polyphenols found in red wine could increase gut microbiota diversity, a factor which contributes to good health. The news should thrill wine lovers as well as producers of the “nectar of the gods”.

Created 12 November 2019
Updated 08 August 2023
Actu GP : Que fait le vin rouge à notre microbiote intestinal ?

About this article

Created 12 November 2019
Updated 08 August 2023


Health benefits of red wine–as long as it is consumed in moderation–would be mainly due to polyphenols contained in it. They are natural components that are mainly found in the skin of red grapes and whose antimicrobial properties could have beneficial properties on the gut microbiota, according to studies conducted on animals. Was the same phenomenon observed in humans? What about other types of alcohol?

More diversified gut microbiota

To answer these questions, a team of London researchers studied the effects of beer, cider, red wine, white wine, and liquor, on the gut microbiota of 916 British female twins. Based on the analysis, they observed that the gut microbiota of women drinking red wine was significantly more diverse than those who drank other types of alcohol. A large bacterial diversity is one of the signs of good health. The results were confirmed in two other cohorts (American and Dutch), each including about a thousand subjects.

Role of polyphenols

Greater microbial diversity, which was only found with red wine, could be explained by the high content of polyphenols in this alcoholic beverage: it is 6 to 7 times higher than in white wine, for instance. Moreover, according to the authors, a very low consumption is enough to produce these effects. Another surprising result at first glance is that red wine consumers also had a lower body mass index, across all cohorts.

Could the “French paradox” be soon resolved?

According to the authors, the increase in bacterial diversity could partly contribute to the benefits obtained from moderate consumption of red wine by improving the metabolism of cholesterol or by reducing the body fat rate. This discovery should make red wine–and ink–flow as the very controversial debate over the benefits of this popular beverage continues. Could we soon be able to solve the “French paradox”?


Old sources


Le Roy CI, Wells PM, Si J et al. Red Wine Consumption Associated With Increased Gut Microbiotaα-diversity in 3 Independent Cohorts. Gastroenterology. 2019

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