There’s been a lot of buzz about the gut microbiome lately. A growing body of research is exploring how it works and its effects on our overall health.
It turns out that what’s going on in your digestive system can help or harm you in significant ways. The trillions of bacteria that make their home in your gastrointestinal tract, along with viruses and fungi, comprise your gut microbiome.
Studies show your gut microbiome can have an effect on your body weight, immune system blood sugar, heart health and even your brain. So it would make sense that you would want your gut to be as healthy as possible. How do you do that?
You’ve probably heard a lot about probiotics, those healthy bacteria (or gut flora) that help keep your gut in good shape. Probiotics can be taken in supplement form or ingested via fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut. For more than 100 years, we have known that these foods can improve gut health.
But, through recent research, we are learning so much more about the function of the gut microbiome and how our dietary choices can affect it. One of the most exciting discoveries to me was the role of resveratrol in gut health.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol or micronutrient found in certain plants and berries – including blueberries, blackberries, grapes, peanuts and cocoa/dark chocolate.
You probably associate resveratrol with red wine, as many people do. Red wine is richer in resveratrol than white wine because of differences in the production process and the length of fermentation. Resveratrol is 6 to 7 times more concentrated in red wine than in white wine. Red wine is the main source of resveratrol in the Mediterranean diet.
And, if you’re wondering which red wine is the best choice, the Pinot Noir and St. Laurent grape varieties boast the highest levels of resveratrol.
As you may already know, researchers have studied the link between alcohol consumption and heart health for decades. Some studies show a benefit for heart health when wine is consumed in moderation.
But recently, research has turned to the relationship between resveratrol and the health of the gut microbiome. And the findings are exciting and encouraging.
One study links red wine to an increase in the diversity of healthy bacteria in the gut.
The observational study looked at almost 3,000 people, all-female twins, and asked them about their alcohol consumption, including red wine, and found a correlation between red wine consumption and increased diversity of healthy bacteria in the gut.
The study scale rated drinking frequency and categorized it as follows: never, rarely, occasionally, regularly and daily. Results showed that twins who drank red wine at a frequency of at least two categories above their co-twins had significantly higher bacteria diversity in their gut microbiome.
Researchers concluded that even rare consumption of red wine could be sufficient to increase diversity. They also showed this could contribute to some other health benefits associated with red wine consumption, such as improvement of cholesterol metabolism and reduced obesity.
In some ways, this should come as no surprise that resveratrol has a positive effect on gut health. Resveratrol has been used for 2000 years for medicinal purposes.
Its oldest known use was in traditional ayurvedic medicine and medicinal preparations from India. A tonic made from grapes dating back to the 3rd and 4th centuries was used for digestive problems, lethargy, and headaches by the Ayurvedics. It has also been used for centuries in Japanese and Chinese traditional medicine.
Resveratrol has also been shown to have another fascinating effect on the gut that can help prevent atherosclerosis (plaque buildup inside the arteries.) The gut microbiota has been found to have a strong association with atherosclerosis because the gut plays a role in the production of TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide), which induces atherosclerosis.
One study shows that resveratrol inhibits the synthesis of TMAO by remodeling the gut microbiome, which decreases gut microbial TMA production and inhibits its later synthesis into TMAO. Researchers say this ultimately results in a decrease in the severity of atherosclerosis.
Another exciting benefit of resveratrol is its ability to improve gut barrier function – in other words, it can play a role in reducing leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal permeability. Leaky gut is a syndrome in which gaps in the intestinal walls allow bacteria and other toxins to pass through the intestines and into the bloodstream.
How does resveratrol help? Several studies have shown that resveratrol can improve the integrity of proteins in the junction of cells that hep maintain a strong gut barrier. Resveratrol upregulates the expression of genes involved in maintaining these tight junctions between the intestinal cells.
Resveratrol has also been shown to modulate the composition of the gut microbiota in a manner that affects central energy metabolism. This can lead to modifications of satiety hormones to produce anti-obesity effects.
Several researchers have been able to show that resveratrol may change the gut microbiome of the obese so that it resembles that of someone of a normal body weight, which shows promising results in the management of clinical symptoms associated with early type 2 diabetes.
In the study, mice fed a high fat and sugar diet developed obesity, and their gut microbiome changed in the same way that humans do with regard to the proportion of certain bacteria.
In mice fed resveratrol, the obesity-related changes in the gut microbiome were reversed, and the gut microbiome resembled that of a normal-weight mouse despite a diet that promoted obesity.
There is much more research to come that will further examine that role of resveratrol throughout the body. Meanwhile, many of us drink red wine to provide ourselves that beneficial resveratrol boost. But supplements can offer a much more concentrated dose than the small amount offered in a glass of wine.
My NAOMI Resveratrol supplement is one pure and potent option for adding these amazing benefits to your diet on a daily basis as you consider all that this mighty polyphenol has to offer.