Wine: Gut Bomb or a Probiotic Panacea

By Dr Ernst
June 21, 2017

One of the most common questions we get at the clinic is the role of alcohol. And if you’re in the clinic for anything other than routine maintenance, the answer is: “You’re healing. Alcohol is toxic by nature. Cut it out until you’re better.” Plain and simple. Beer, wine, cocktails, shots, snifters, sippers, tastings… they will set you back in the healing process.

BUT, putting that aside. If you’re comfortable with your health, you feel your neurological, chemical and nutritional standards are being met, alcohol can be a once-in-a-while thing for sure! But there are better ways than others to drink it. This particular piece is about wine: how it can be a problem for your health or, in some cases, actually help you be healthier.

The Bad

Pesticides, particularly the chemically synthesized ones that are nearly ubiquitous in the wine growing community, are carcinogenic, inflammatory and downright poisonous. Same as your fruits and vegetables, though, an organic wine pretty much takes care of this problem.

Alcohol in general contributes to leaky gut, which contributes to inflammation, which in turn contributes to nearly 100 known diseases. That being the case, when you drink alcohol, you won’t get away from that simply biological fact. However, you can drink less alcohol. The average amount of alcohol in a bottle of wine is 13.56%. Some wines are lower, maybe around 12%. If you can find a lower alcohol content wine, you are mitigating the damage to your gut.

Sugar is a part of any grape and thus, a part of any wine to varying degrees. We probably don’t need to go into the health effects of sugar in this post. If you’re reading this in the first place, it probably means you are at least somewhat health conscious. However, the yeast used to ferment grape juice into wine actually feeds off sugar. If a winemaker allows the fermentation process to go on longer, it decreases the overall sugar content. It can, in some cases, get fairly close to zero.

Acetaldehyde is a compound that is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process and, like both sugar and alcohol, it contributes to intestinal permeability and inflammation. It also contributes to the feeling of being hungover the next day. Similar to sugar, if the fermentation process isn’t stopped short (as it mostly is), bacteria and yeast will break down the acetaldehyde.

The Better

So, your ideal wine would organic, a lower alcohol content and the fermentation process would have been allowed to finish itself. Such wines exist.

But can we actually make wine healthy for us?

The Best

Red wine is objectively better for your health than white (taste preference is a totally different thing). Why? Red wine contains anthocyanins, a natural pigment that gives grapes their color. It also supports good bacteria in your gut. Red wine also contains the powerful antioxidants we call polyphenols and resveratrol.

All wines help support the gut bacteria. The fermentation process offers similar benefits to eating kimchi or drinking kombucha. It’s full of healthy, natural bacteria. But the yeast itself can be quite helpful as well. The majority of wines on the market sterilize their product before bottling it, which removes any yeast. However, a good all-natural wine will allow the yeast to remain. Depending on the type, yeast can help with the absorption of important nutrients into the body.

To get the good bacteria benefits from wine, it’s got to be relatively low in sulfites. These compound types are used to kill bacteria without killing flavor or using some kind of pharmaceutical antibiotic. If you get a low-sulfite wine, it’ll be higher in good bacteria.

Dry Farm Wines

When the AskDrErnst team went to a recent training seminar, we met the owner of Dry Farm Wines and he let us taste his product to our heart’s content. Our first impression was that it is just good wine.

It was only later that we learned about it’s properties. It basically fits the profile of a perfect wine. It’s organic, they let the fermentation process complete itself–which eliminates sugar and acetaldehyde. It’s low in sulfites and it’s 12.5% alcohol by volume–lower than average.

It’s basically designed to be the healthiest possible wine. And if you are the type of person who is looking after their health but still wants to drink wine, this is the company for you.


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