Two Liquids Are Surprisingly Good for Gut Bacteria

© Jimmy Rowalt

Posted April 29, 2016

A new study says that coffee and wine add microbial diversity to our bodies, which defends against disease. Who knew?

Some foods have always been championed as good for the gut. Take yogurt, for example. It contains live "good" bacteria, a.k.a. probiotics, which aid in boosting the immune system, ameliorating gastrointestinal conditions, and making you feel fuller. Now a new study says that even coffee and wine—two drinks that seem like highly acidic choices for sensitive stomachs—may actually be good for gut bacteria.

According to Dr. Jingyuan Fu's research at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, it's not that our bodies need certain microbes in the gut; we need a good diversity of microbes. Fruit, vegetables, tea, buttermilk, yogurt, coffee, and wine are all recommended, while sugary sodas, savory snacks, artificial sweeteners, high-fat whole milk, and foods rich in simple carbohydrates are discouraged because they reduce bacterial diversity.



The gut's balance can also be thrown off with poor sleep patterns, diabetes, smoking, heart attacks, and—surprise—by ingesting medications like metformin, antacids, and antibiotics. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, you probably need more microbial diversity. Conversely, the makeup of your microbial community could play a role in mood disorders and obesity.


To complete the study, Fu's team examined more than 1,100 people from the northern part of the Netherlands and asked them to fill out a questionnaire detailing their diet, health, and use of medicines. Researchers ultimately looked at the stool samples and DNA of subjects' bacteria and at other gut microorganisms for answers. Their results were published in the April 29 issue of the journal Science.


Larger studies are already planned to examine why certain foods and behaviors correlate with gut bacteria.


[h/t LA Times]


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