We know that wine is good for your cardiovascular health when enjoyed in moderation, but do the benefits end there? New research suggests that drinking wine could have benefits for your digestive and oral health as well.
According to a report published in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the many polyphenols in wine do, in fact, reduce the amount of bacteria and free radicals in your mouth, intestinal tract, and colon. Polyphenols are antioxidants found in many natural food items like fruit and herbs such as turmeric and curcumin.
The researchers reasoned that their findings can be explained by the fact that fruits naturally produce polyphenols to ward off harmful pathogens like bacteria. They wanted to find out if these compounds found in wine could have a positive effect on teeth and gums. So they compared the effects of wine to grapefruit juice, red wine extracts, and grape seed.
They then exposed three sets of cells that serve as an analog for gum tissue. They found that two polyphenols in particular- p-coumaric and caffeic acids had the most positive effect. In fact, they found that these two, when used together, are better than all other polyphenols combined.
Bacteria attack teeth and gums by adhering to the surface. Adherence is an ability bacteria have evolved to break down the material it wishes to consume by subjecting its food to persistent contact with digestive enzymes. The adherence of bacteria is considered a ‘virulence factor” by epidemiologists.
The researchers say that the compounds prevent bacteria from adhering to the surface of teeth and gums, making it more difficult for the bacteria to feed and grow.
To take their experiments one step further, the researchers combined these two polyphenols with the known oral probiotic, Streptococcus dentisani. This organism is known to defend host organisms against harmful bacteria. The researchers found that the probiotic was actually able to utilize the p-coumaric and caffeic acids as an aid to their natural function. They also found that when the polyphenols begin to be digested by enzymes in the saliva of the mouth, metabolites are formed. These metabolites are believed to enable the probiotic to exhibit an enhanced ability to ward off unwanted bacteria.
It’s worth noting that better oral health also means better heart health. This is due to the fact that plaque in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and clog arteries.
Armed with this new knowledge, it won’t be long before dentists and other oral healthcare professionals obtain powerful new oral care products featuring these polyphenols as their key ingredients.