Why Stool Diversity is a Crappy Argument for Drinking Red Wine

A recent study (C Le Roy et al.  Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 270-2) has indicated that red wine (& to a lesser extent white wine) can improve the intestinal microbiome diversity.

A recent AGA blog provides some insight into this study: Is Red Wine Consumption Good For Your Intestinal Microbiome?

An excerpt:

Consumption of red wine polyphenols has been previously associated with health benefits ranging from reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors, metabolic syndrome, and depression to improving cognition…

Le Roy et al compared the effects of beer and cider, red wine, white wine, spirits, and sum of all alcohols on the α-diversity of the intestinal microbiota (determined from 16s ribosomal RNA sequence data) in discovery cohort of 916 women (from a study of twins in the United Kingdom) and 2 replication cohorts (in Europe and North America) using a linear mixed-effect model adjusted for age, body mass index, Healthy Eating Index scores, education, and family structure…

LeRoy et al found that red wine consumption was associated, in a frequency-dependent manner, with α-diversity—even rare consumption had an effect. White wine was associated with α-diversity to a lesser extent, and there was no association with other alcohol categories…

LeRoy et al also observed a direct association between red wine consumption and blood level of insulin and high-density lipoprotein.

[Limitations] this was a cross-sectional and observational study; randomized studies would be needed to determine whether red wine drinking has direct effects on composition of the intestinal microbiome and health outcomes…

My view: If you like to drink red wine, that’s fine but I would be reluctant to expect a health benefit –no matter how great your poop is.  As the associated editorial notes, “high consumption of alcohol has many adverse health effects, including development of cirrhosis. So, it remains to be determined whether long-term trials of red wine can be safely managed in an ethically responsible manner. It will be important to identify doses that provide beneficial health effects without reducing gut barrier integrity.”

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