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Surprising Side Effects Wine Has On Your Gut, Says Science

That small glass of vino does more than you think!
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

While it's not always associated with the image of health, drinking wine, especially red wine, has been linked to a multitude of health benefits. The alcoholic beverage made of fermented grapes has become well-known for the positive impact that it has on heart health, and it can also lower cholesterol. A compound found in wine has also been linked to slowing the progression of endometriosis in women.

Of course, like any other alcoholic beverage, wine also has its downfalls when it comes to maintaining health, including an increased risk of depression, according to a study from Kings College London. But what role does the drink play specifically when it comes to the gut? In some cases, studies have shown that wine has a beneficial impact on the health of our guts, but there have also been studies showing that some wines can be harmful to digestion.

Here are the surprising side effects wine has on your gut that you may not have known about, and for even more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

It can lead to inflammation.

women drinking wine

Like so many other foods and beverages, red wine can be very healthy, especially for the gut. But it can become just the opposite when too much sugar is added to it while it's being processed. This excess sugar can have an impact on your gut's ability to help digest the wine properly and inflammation.

"The trick is to find a brand of red wine with no added sugar," says nutritionist Heather Hanks. "Many red wines, especially cheaper wines, contain sugar, which can be highly inflammatory and worsen digestive conditions and other autoimmune conditions."

Here are 14 Tips to Reduce Inflammation, According to RDs.

It creates microbiota diversity.

red wine

The human microbiome consists of all of the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa that live inside each person's body, and it plays a big part in human health. There are bad microbes that can be in the human body—pathogens, fungi, and different viruses that can lead to varying diseases. But there are also good microbes, like probiotics. According to a study done by Kings College London, it's best to have diversity among the microbes to better support gut health.

Scientists conducting the study have said that regular drinkers of red wine have been shown to have more microbiota diversity, which is beneficial for gut health, compared to other participants in the study who didn't drink red wine. They believe that the reasoning for this is the numerous polyphenols found in red wine, which act as fuel for microbes.

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It can reduce the chance of obesity and bad cholesterol.

red wine

While plenty of varieties of red and white wine can contain excess sugar, which undeniably leads to weight gain and an increased chance of obesity, if you choose your red wine correctly, you actually might be able to lessen that chance.

"Red wine drinkers had lower levels of obesity and heart disease, which may be due to the positive effects it has on gut bacteria," Hanks says.

Here are Amazing Effects of Drinking Wine You Never Knew, According to Science.

It can irritate the GI tract.

Woman pouring glass of white wine

Whether it's a faucet, a water bottle, or, well, a gut, nothing that can be described as leaky sounds like a really great time. But according to certified nutritionist Bonnie Flemington, drinking alcohol—including wine—can result in leaky gut syndrome and irritate the body's gastrointestinal tract.

"It does this by creating imbalances in our gut bacteria as well as increasing the permeability of the intestinal lining (leaky gut)," says Flemington.

She added that these complications can lead to symptoms including joint aches and pains.

It could lead to bacterial overgrowth.

drinking wine

There are numerous positive side effects associated with wine consumptions, but just one glass of wine, or other alcoholic beverages, for women and two servings for men per day could lead to small intestine bacterial overgrowth, a condition in which an excessive amount of bacteria grows in the small intestine.

The condition, which impacts the small intestine, could lead to bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation, according to a study done by the American College of Gastroenterology, which links moderate drinking to small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

"While commercial wines are filtered to get rid of nearly all bacteria and sediment, the sugar and polyphenols, the antioxidants that give red wine its passionate color, feed good gut bacteria and can also contribute to the bacteria overgrowth in small intestine bacterial overgrowth," says Melanie Keller, a naturopathic doctor and expert in gut health.

It can lead to nausea.

glass wine

It's no surprise to anyone that when you drink too much, throwing up is a likely consequence. Vomiting is one of the body's ways of getting rid of toxins, especially excess toxins from drinking too much alcohol. This can happen with every type of alcoholic beverage, including wine.

While nausea and vomiting are uncomfortable and painful for many people, persistent vomiting can also lead to serious health problems, including inflaming the stomach and esophagus, acid reflux, and tearing the esophageal lining.

Erin Yarnall
Erin Yarnall is a freelance reporter from the Chicago area. Read more about Erin