Now there will be those tempted to see this as a pitch for drinking more red wine….but let’s try and keep this in perspective, you see a this research looked at a compound found in red wine, resveratrol. It found that it reduces the risk of heart disease by changing the gut microbiome, according to a new study by researchers from China. The study is published in mBio, an open-access journal published by the American Society for Microbiology.
The authors are recorded as stating:
“Our results offer new insights into the mechanisms responsible for resveratrol’s anti-atherosclerosis effects and indicate that gut microbiota may become an interesting target for pharmacological or dietary interventions to decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases,”
You are of course intimately aware that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in industrialised societies, and the incidence is growing in developing countries. In recent years, researchers have learned that the gut microbiome plays a role in the build up of plaque inside arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis. Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, is thought to have beneficial antioxidant properties that protect against conditions such as heart disease. Just how resveratrol, a plant compound, does this, however, is not yet fully understood.
In this research the scientists conducted a number of experiments in mice to determine whether the protective effect of resveratrol against atherosclerosis was related to changes in the gut microbiome. They found that resveratrol reduces levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a known contributor to the development of atherosclerosis. They also found that resveratrol inhibits TMA production by gut bacteria; TMA is necessary for the production of TMAO. Mmmm does this support the notion that drinking wine with red meat mitigates risk of associated heart disease… it’s a big leap but early indications are that this may have some association.
They go on to say:
“In our current study, we found that resveratrol can remodel the gut microbiota including increasing the Bacteroidetes-to-Firmicutes ratios, significantly inhibiting the growth of Prevotella, and increasing the relative abundance of Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Akkermansia in mice,” In effect they state. “Resveratrol reduces TMAO levels by inhibiting the gut microbial TMA formation via remodelling gut microbiota.”
Makes you think, the role of almost everything we see in food that exerts of risk or benefit must impact on or through the gut microbiota, but at what stage is the gut community ready to be exposed, is geographical variation, medical history, birth experiences and hygiene factors as significant and once extrapolated to the world of humans, what sort of dose will be needed…maybe more than the currently approved volumes of red wine may deliver?
 Chen M, Yi L, Zhang Y, et al. Resveratrol Attenuates Trimethylamine-N-Oxide (TMAO)-Induced Atherosclerosis by Regulating TMAO Synthesis and Bile Acid Metabolism via Remodeling of the Gut Microbiota. mBio. 2016;7(2):e02210-15. View Full Paper