Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wine and colon health: More than a gut feeling

The status of your intestinal tract may not be the sexiest of topics, but for those with problems such as inflammatory bowel disease it is of overriding importance. Whether or not you have a life-changing inflammatory disease, colon health deserves to be taken seriously - at least seriously enough to consider how wine and resveratrol fit in. It’s more good news, as you will have come to expect.


Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic, relapsing, tissue-destructive disorder for which there is no definitive cure. Patients typically undergo multiple surgeries and are on medication most of the time. It is also a difficult thing to study, but there is a model in mice in which the condition can be created by giving them a toxic compound called DSS. Various treatments can then be tested and markers of inflammation measured.

A series of recent reports indicate that resveratrol and other wine polyphenols (again resveratrol shouldn’t get all the credit) can be quite helpful. Using resveratrol in doses attainable through dietary means, mice with DSS-induced colitis in one study were able to reverse the loss in body weight and decrease several markers of inflammation. Evidence from this and other studies indicates that the wine-derived molecules act at a genetic level, fundamentally altering the inflammatory process. The implications for humans with inflammatory bowel disease are significant, but remain to be tested and proved. But based on what is known about wine and how it alters inflammation in other diseases, this is very encouraging news indeed.

I couldn’t help but notice another theme in these studies that seems to characterize much of the research in this field. The reports I reference here are from South Korea, Italy, and the U.S., highlighting the international nature of wine research. Who knows, it may be wine science that helps build connections between people around the world, much as wine brings friends and family together around the table. Cheers to that.

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