Pairing the right wine with a meal can round out flavors and stimulate conversation. But can it really help digest the meal, as suggested by a host of authorities through the ages, even the Bible? (“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake.”)
Millenniums later, scientists are still working on that one. Some have found that alcoholic beverages speed the emptying of food from the stomach and stimulate gastric acid, while others maintain there is little effect. One study by German researchers, in the aptly named journal Gut, may explain the discrepancy: it found an effect from fermented drinks (wine, sherry and beer) but not from drinks that were fermented and distilled, like rum, cognac and whiskey.
“The alcoholic beverage constituents that stimulate gastric acid output and release of gastrin are most probably produced during the process of fermentation and removed during distillation,” they concluded.
Other studies help explain why red wine and red meat pair so well. Protein softens the wine’s tannins, and red wine also helps counteract potentially harmful substances — oxidized fats called malonaldehydes, or MDA — released when meat is digested.
A 2008 study found that a serving of dark meat from turkey elevated levels of the substance in subjects’ blood. But when they combined it with a glass of cabernet sauvignon or shiraz, the increase in MDA was “completely prevented.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
In more ways than one, a glass of wine may aid digestion.
The effect of commonly ingested alcoholic beverages on gastric acid output and release of gastrin in humans is unknown.
AIM AND METHODS:
In 16 healthy humans the effect of some commonly ingested alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation plus distillation (for example, whisky, cognac, calvados, armagnac, and rum) or by alcoholic fermentation (beer, wine, champagne, martini, and sherry) on gastric acid output and release of gastrin was studied. Gastric acid output was determined by the method of intragastric titration. Plasma gastrin was measured using a specific radioimmunoassay.
None of the alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation plus distillation had any significant effect on gastric acid output and release of gastrin compared with control (isotonic glucose and distilled water). Alcoholic beverages produced only by fermentation significantly (p < 0.05) increased the gastric acid output by 57% to 95% of maximal acid output (MAO) and release of gastrin up to 5.1-fold compared with control. If beer, wine, and sherry were distilled, only their remaining parts increased gastric acid output by 53% to 76% of MAO and increased release of gastrin up to 4.3-fold compared with control.
(1) Alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation but not by distillation are powerful stimulants of gastric acid output and release of gastrin; (2) the alcoholic beverage constituents that stimulate gastric acid output and release of gastrin are most probably produced during the process of fermentation and removed during the following process of distillation.
PMID: 9155575 PMCID: PMC1027007
[Indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
J Clin Invest. 1999 Mar;103(5):707-13.
Maleic acid and succinic acid in fermented alcoholic beverages are the stimulants of gastric acid secretion.
Alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation (e.g., beer and wine) are powerful stimulants of gastric acid output and gastrin release in humans. The aim of this study was to separate and specify the gastric acid stimulatory ingredients in alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation. Yeast-fermented glucose was used as a simple model of fermented alcoholic beverages; it was stepwise separated by different methods of liquid chromatography, and each separated solution was tested in human volunteers for its stimulatory action on gastric acid output and gastrin release. Five substances were detected by high-performance liquid chromatography and were analyzed by mass spectrometry and 1H-13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. At the end of the separation process of the five identified substances, only the two dicarboxylic acids, maleic acid and succinic acid, had a significant (P < 0.05) stimulatory action on gastric acid output (76% and 70% of fermented glucose, respectively), but not on gastrin release. When given together, they increased gastric acid output by 100% of fermented glucose and by 95% of maximal acid output. We therefore conclude that maleic acid and succinic acid are the powerful stimulants of gastric acid output in fermented glucose and alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation, and that gastrin is not their mediator of action.
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A novel function of red wine polyphenols in humans: prevention of absorption of cytotoxic lipid peroxidation products
Shlomit Gorelik, Moshe Ligumsky, Ron Kohen, and Joseph Kanner
Published Online: 21 Aug 2007 https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.07-9041com
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Current evidence supports a contribution of polyphenols to the prevention of cardiovascular disease, but their mechanisms of action are not understood. We investigated the impact of red wine polyphenols on postprandial cytotoxic lipid peroxidation products (MDA) levels in humans. In a randomized, crossover study, the effect of red wine polyphenols on postprandial levels of plasma and urine MDA was investigated. Three meals of 250 g turkey cutlets supplemented by water (A); soaked in red wine after heating plus 200 ml of red wine (B); or soaked in red wine prior to heating plus 200 ml of red wine (C) were administered to 10 healthy volunteers. Subject baseline plasma levels of MDA were 50 ± 20 nM. After a meal of turkey meat cutlets, plasma MDA levels increased by 160 nM (P<0.0001); after (B) there was a 75% reduction in the absorption of MDA (P<0.0001). However, after (C), the elevation of plasma MDA was completely prevented (P<0.0001). Similar results were obtained for MDA accumulation in urine. Our study suggests that red wine polyphenols exert a beneficial effect by the novel new function, absorption inhibition of the lipotoxin MDA. These findings explain the potentially harmful effects of oxidized fats found in foods and the important benefit of dietary polyphenols in the meal.—Gorelik, S., Ligumsky, M., Kohen, R., Kanner, J. A novel function of red wine polyphenols in humans: prevention of absorption of cytotoxic lipid peroxidation products.
Gut. 1993 Jun;34(6):843-7.
Alcohol and gastric acid secretion in humans.
The secretory response of gastric acid to pure ethanol and alcoholic beverages may be different because the action of the non-ethanolic contents of the beverage may overwhelm that of ethanol. Pure ethanol in low concentrations (< 5% vol/vol) is a mild stimulant of acid secretion whereas at higher concentrations it has either no effect or a mildly inhibitory one. Pure ethanol given by any route does not cause release of gastrin in humans. Alcoholic beverages with low ethanol content (beer and wine) are strong stimulants of gastric acid secretion and gastrin release, the effect of beer being equal to the maximal acid output. Beverages with a higher ethanol content (whisky, gin, cognac) do not stimulate gastric acid secretion or release of gastrin. The powerful stimulants of gastric acid secretion present in beer, which are yet to be identified, are thermostable and anionic polar substances. The effect of chronic alcohol abuse on gastric acid secretion is not as predictable. Chronic alcoholic patients may have normal, enhanced, or diminished acid secretory capacity; hypochlorhydria being associated histologically with atrophic gastritis. There are no studies on the acute effect of alcohol intake on gastric acid secretion in chronic alcoholic patients. The acid stimulatory component of beer and wine needs to be characterised and its possible role in the causation of alcohol induced gastrointestinal diseases needs to be investigated.
PMID: 8314520 PMCID: PMC1374273
[Indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article