Versão em Português

Wine, heart, and microbiota

16 Março 2023

A new study, involving Brazilian researchers, points out that wine can modulate the intestinal microbiota, potentially favoring the reduction of oxidative stress.

Although studies indicate that wine may play a cardioprotective role, it is always important to emphasize that no alcoholic beverage should be used as a medicine. According to the WHO, the harmful consumption of alcohol is a risk factor for more than 200 types of diseases and injuries, and some of these diseases are related to the heart.

Bearing these considerations in mind, it is the role of scientific research to continue to study the relationship between alcohol and health, and unexpected results are often found, which do not change the narrative that harmful alcohol consumption is bad for health, but indicate the complexity of the subject and the importance of studying it. This is the case of a new study, carried out by researchers from USP, UNICAMP, UnB and Harvard, analyzing the effect of consuming low doses of wine (250 mL) on the intestinal microbiota of individuals with coronary artery disease. More specifically, the research authors were interested in analyzing potential cardioprotective effects of wine, which would be mediated by promoting a diversity of microbiota that is more effective in fighting oxidative stress (1).

The research involved 42 men, with an average age of 60 years. The analysis of the microbiota components after the intervention, however, was performed in only 20 randomly selected individuals. Each of the research participants went through a 3-week period where they consumed 250 mL of wine 5 days a week, and then 3 weeks of abstention. The order of each of the stages was given randomly, and between them there was a period of washout, in which the participants did not consume alcoholic beverages, fermented foods, prebiotics and probiotics.

After analyzing the results, the authors conclude that it is possible that there is a cardioprotective effect of wine mediated by the intestinal microbiota, but further research needs to be done to really confirm this relationship. In terms of study limitations, the authors point out that both the small sample size and the fact that they were all men with a mean age of 60 years limit the extent of any conclusion or recommendation for the general population. In addition, they warn that the measurement of alcohol consumption was made through the participants' reports, and there was no collection of any biological indicator that attests to this report. Additionally, the study did not control for individual factors related to behavioral risk factors such as smoking, physical activity, and other factors that may affect the gut microbiota. Given this whole scenario, the “practical” validity of this study is still quite questionable, even though the theme has merit. More research is needed to understand the modulation that the microbiota can exert on the effects of alcohol on various organs of the human body.

In general, CISA reiterates that no alcohol should be consumed as a medicine and that no one should start drinking it aiming at benefits. In addition, as we point out in our report “Alcohol and the Health of Brazilians – Panorama 2022”, hypertensive heart disease and ischemic heart disease are among the disorders partially attributable to alcohol that cause the most deaths in Brazil. Thus, the best way to take care of heart health is to acquire healthy habits in your daily life. A good diet combined with the practice of physical activities, quitting smoking and avoiding the harmful use of alcohol, in addition to having an annual check-up are important to prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Additional Info

  • Referências:

    Haas EA, Saad MJA, Santos A, Vitulo N, Lemos WJF, Martins AMA, et al. A red wine intervention does not modify plasma trimethylamine N-oxide but is associated with broad shifts in the plasma metabolome and gut microbiota composition. Am J Clin Nutr [Internet]. 2022 Dec 19 [cited 2023 Feb 7];116(6):1515–29. Available from:

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