In this Page, i will first examine wine’s role in balancing the microbioto (gut) (Section A) and follow-up with cacao’s role (Section B) and conclude with a more detailed analysis on green and black teas’ microbiota contributions. (Section C)
Wine’s polyphenols and other molecules promote Gut balance and diversity as does cacao, also a fermented product and both green and black fermented tea. When the compounds in these superfoods improve the equilibrium and the ratio between the good and bad critters in the gut, they’re also helping to lower one’s proclivity toward obesity, diabetes and other diseases.
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Wine’s Contribution to a rich and balanced Microbiota
Two glasses of red wine per day increased levels of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus, compared to gin consumption, which showed no benefits. (211114)
Results: The dominant bacterial composition did not remain constant over the different intake periods. Compared with baseline, the daily consumption of red wine polyphenol for 4 wk significantly increased the number of Enterococcus, Prevotella, Bacteroides, Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides uniformis, Eggerthella lenta, and Blautia coccoides–Eubacterium rectale groups (P < 0.05). In parallel, systolic and diastolic blood pressures and triglyceride, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and C-reactive protein concentrations decreased significantly (P < 0.05). Moreover, changes in cholesterol and C-reactive protein concentrations were linked to changes in the bifidobacteria number.
Conclusion: This study showed that red wine consumption can significantly modulate the growth of select gut microbiota in humans, which suggests possible prebiotic benefits associated with the inclusion of red wine polyphenols in the diet. This trial was registered at controlled-trials.com as ISRCTN88720134
Bacteroides, another beneficial gut bacteria, were positively associated with red wine consumption. (25
The results showed a direct association between the intake of red wine, a source of stilbenes, and the relative abundance of Bacteroides, and between the intake of coffee, rich in phenolic acids, and the abundance of Clostridium, Lactococcus and Lactobacillus genera. Despite epidemiological analyses not establishing causality, these results support the association between polyphenol-rich beverages and faecal microbiota in allergic patients.
) Natural wines that aren’t aggressively filtered or fermented with commercial yeast strains contain their own probiotics similar to what you find in fermented vegetables and dairy products. Especially wine’s polyphenols.
Polyphenols are naturally-occurring compounds found in in plants. Many of these plants make up our food supply, including fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, and wine. Once consumed, only about 5-10% of polyphenols are directly absorbed in the small intestine, while the rest make their way to the colon to be broken down by our gut bacteria into metabolites, which then exert their important physiological effects. (1)
Researchers are now discovering that the relationship between polyphenols and the gut microbiota is a two way street: that is, the polyphenols change the composition of the gut bacteria, and the gut bacteria are responsible for metabolizing the polyphenols into their bioactive metabolites.
Polyphenols act as a gut regulator
The gut contains over 100 trillion bacteria (that’s ten times the amount of bacteria than we have human cells!) that play a vital role in our overall health. (2) These bacteria are negatively altered by antibiotics, stress, the food we eat, and more, eventually leading to a problem called dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is an imbalance of bacteria that can occur in any of our mucus membranes, such as in the lungs, mouth, nose, and of course, the gut. (3) We’ll be focusing on gut dysbiosis in this article, as it’s something we definitely want to avoid or fix if we’re suffering from digestive problems. Dysbiosis is probably much more common than you’d think: it’s often seen in those with inflammatory bowel disease, fatty liver, obesity, colon cancer, IBS, and more. (4, 5, 6, 7, 8) One of the best things we can do for our digestive (and overall) health is balance our gut bacteria. Luckily, there are plenty of ways for us to do that and consuming polyphenols is one of them!
Polyphenols seem to act as a prebiotic-type substance, meaning that they increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains. Tea is possibly the most researched out of all the high-polyphenol foods, with many studies proving the prebiotic effects of tea extracts, leaves and polyphenol compounds. (9, 10, 11, 12, 13) Compared to those not treated with polyphenols, rats consuming red wine polyphenols have completely different predominant bacteria: those not consuming polyphenols showed predominantely Bacteroides, Clostridium and Propionibacterium species, while polyphenol-treated rats had mostly Bacteroides, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, showing that polyphenol intake can make quite an impact on gut bacteria. (14)
In a study on humans, a wild blueberry drink significantly increases Lactobacillus counts. (15)
red wine also contains polyphenols that seem to have a similarly beneficial impact on gut bacteria. (16)
Not only do polyphenols increase counts of beneficial bacteria, they also inhibit growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria.
Catechin, a polyphenol found in tea, chocolate, apples, and blackberries (to name a few), has been shown to significantly inhibit proliferation of Clostridium histolyticum, a pathogenic bacteria. (18) Phenolic compounds contained in various berries have also been studied, showing antimicrobial effects on human pathogens such as Staphylococcus and Salmonella. (19) Studies also show that tea phenolics consumption repress the growth of Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium difficile, and Bacteroides spp. (20)
cocoa also has prebiotic activity. (17)
Conclusion: This study shows, for the first time to our knowledge, that consumption of cocoa flavanols can significantly affect the growth of select gut microflora in humans, which suggests the potential prebiotic benefits associated with the dietary inclusion of flavanol-rich foods. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01091922.
The precise benefit stems from the way black tea (and green tea, too) can change the ratio of gut bacteria, decreasing the percentages of a type previously linked to obesity, and increasing bacteria associated with lean body mass, Prevent Disease reports.1
Research from the University of California published in the European Journal of Nutrition,2 revealed that not only may drinking black tea change your gut microbiome for the better, it may also improve your gut function. Lead study author Susanne Henning explains:
“Our new findings suggest that black tea, through a specific mechanism through the gut microbiome, may also contribute to good health and weight loss in humans. The results suggest that both green and black teas are prebiotics, substances that induce the growth of good microorganisms that contribute to a person’s well-being.”3
It now appears that both green and black teas have metabolism-boosting effects, with green tea working via your bloodstream and black tea via your gut bacteria.4
In addition, antioxidant polyphenols in both green and black tea fight against free radicals, helping to ensure proper function of DNA and cell membranes.5
However, by altering your gut microbiome, black tea helps prevent weight gain and obesity, making it “anti-obesogenic.” Psychology Today explains part of the mechanism for how this works, as well as the importance of intestinal health:
“Each of us has trillions of microorganisms and diverse bacterial communities — commonly referred to as microbiome or gut microbiota — residing in our gastrointestinal tract at any given time. Microbiota is a diverse ecological community of microorganisms that are generally a combination of both beneficial ‘good bacteria’ and potentially harmful bacteria.
The human gut is similar to that of a mouse and generally harbors over 100 trillion microorganisms. Microbiome colonies begin to reside within our intestines immediately after birth and are vital to the healthy development of your immune system and are associated with various important neurobiological and physiological functions.”6
Four groups of mice involved in the research were given different diets to compare over a four-week period: low-fat and high-sugar; high-fat and high-sugar; high-fat, high-sugar plus green tea extract; and high-fat, high-sugar plus black tea extract. Evaluating the results, UCLA Newsroom 7 adds, the scientists found that the mice given the green or black tea extracts dropped the same amount of weight as the ones who were fed a straight low-fat diet.
Simultaneously, samples were collected from the large intestines of the mice so their bacteria could be accounted for, as well as from their liver tissues so they could measure their fat deposits. The scientists’ findings indicated that the mice that had ingested the tea extracts exhibited a change in the ratios of two significant microbiome family groups.
The first was a decrease in Firmicutes bacteria linked to obesity, with an upsurge in Bacteroidetes that had in previous studies been associated with lean body mass. The team listed the eight bacteria that “significantly correlated” with weight loss induced by tea extracts: Blautia Bryantella Collinsella Lactobacillus Marvinbryantia Turicibacter Barnesiella Parabacteroides
Only mice that had ingested black tea showed an increase in Pseudobutyrivibrio, with the added increase in the intestinal formation of short-chain fatty acids,8 which the team explains may be the bacteria that make the difference in how black tea and green tea change the way energy is metabolized, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution9 observes.
The molecules in green tea, being smaller, are absorbed directly into your bloodstream and liver, while black tea stays in your intestinal tract because the molecules are larger. The study authors explain:
“When black tea molecules stay in the intestinal tract, they enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria and the formation of microbial metabolites involved in the regulation of energy metabolism.”10
Black Tea’s Other Advantages Over Disease
Black tea can retain its robust flavor for several years, while green tea typically goes flat if it’s not used within a year, but that’s just one of many benefits of black tea consumption. According to studies conducted in Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands and Western Australia, the advantages of drinking black tea increase with the consumption of four or more cups per day,11 while the risk of several diseases and disorders is reduced, including stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer.
Similarly, a study at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia showed that the study participants who drank more than six cups of tea a day had a “significantly lower prevalence of coronary heart disease” than non-tea drinkers.12
A study at the Netherlands National Institute of Public Health and the Environment found an association between black tea and decreased stroke incidence, as well.13 Prevent Disease notes:
“Researchers looked at data from a study examining the health benefits of foods that are high in flavonoids — phytonutrients with antioxidant benefits. While some of the flavonoids were obtained from fruits and vegetables, 70 percent came from black tea.”14
Cancer is another disease scientists have found black tea to be protective against. A 2000 study at Rutgers University found what they termed black tea’s “secret weapon,” a potent anticancer polyphenol called theaflavin-3′-monogallate (TF-2). One researcher, Kuang Yu Chen, Ph.D., noted that the compound showed “very interesting properties” against colon cancer cells. “While exposure to TF-2 leaves normal cells unharmed, cancer cells ‘commit suicide’ in droves”15 in a process called apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
Black Tea Lowers Blood Pressure and Diabetes Risks
It may come as no surprise that, when the compounds in black tea are busy improving the ratio between the good and bad critters in your gut, it’s also helping to lower your proclivity toward diabetes. As a prebiotic, the polysaccharides in black tea contained more glucose-inhibiting properties when compared to two other teas, including green and oolong teas.
The study showed that polysaccharides from black tea may take the edge off sugar spikes after a meal better than similar compounds from green and oolong tea, which provides potential diabetes management.16
“Inhibition of intestinal alpha-glucosidases delays the digestion of starch and sucrose, flattens the postprandial blood glucose excursions, and thus mimics the effects of dieting”17 on people with blood sugar issues.
In addition, JAMA’s Archives of Internal Medicine published a six-month study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Western Australia (UWA), led by professor of nutrition and epidemiology Jonathan Hodgson, which reported that drinking three or more cups of black tea per day (which provides about 429 milligrams (mg) of polyphenols) may reduce blood pressure, which could in turn help decrease your heart disease risk, and also have a long-term effect.18 Hodgson noted:
“Our study has demonstrated for the first time to our knowledge that long-term regular consumption of black tea can result in significantly lower (blood pressure) in individuals with normal to high-normal range (blood pressure). At a population level, the observed differences in (blood pressure) would be associated with a 10 percent reduction in the prevalence of hypertension and a 7 percent to 10 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.”19
Following the six-month trial period, the study team reported that the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of the study participants fell between 2 to 3 mm Hg compared to non-tea drinkers. Jane Rycroft, senior nutrition and health manager at Unilever’s Research & Development, stated:
“This is further evidence to suggest that tea and its natural ingredients can help people become healthier. While a 2 to 3 mm Hg decrease is a small change to an individual’s blood pressure, it’s tantalizing to think what positive impact this could have on reducing the risk of heart disease among the general public.”20
Black tea undergoes full oxidation and fermentation while green tea doesn’t.21 Besides containing caffeine and the aforementioned polyphenols, one 8-ounce cup of black tea contains several other unique and health-beneficial properties, Nutrition Data22 reports:
Amino acids Proteins Potassium Major minerals Manganese Riboflavin Folate Magnesium
. The darker the tea, generally the longer it has been oxidized, or exposed to oxygen. One thing you want to watch for when you’re buying tea is the processing methods, which is why you want to look for organic teas. Otherwise, it may have undergone a heavy dose of pesticide spray.
Another problem with tea may be exposure to toxins from soil and water, such as heavy metals and fluoride. A clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea, so be mindful of this when choosing your source.
When you think of all the Chinese sages who’ve ingested probably thousands of cups of tea in their lifetimes, it’s no surprise that drinking tea can even help prevent dementia by 50 percent, and peoples’ risk for Alzheimer’s disease could be reduced by 86 percent, according to another study.23
In fact, “the protective role of tea consumption on brain function is not limited to a particular type of tea — so long as the tea is brewed from tea leaves, such as green, black or oolong tea.”24 So from your brain down to your gut, drinking high-quality tea may boost your health in multiple ways.
Sources and References
1, 3, 10 Prevent Disease October 17, 2017
14, 19, 20 Prevent Disease March 1, 2012