Chocolate, Wine, and the Digestive Microbiome

If you enjoy wine or chocolate, (and let's be honest--who doesn't enjoy at least one of those treats,) then you will love the recent news out of Belgium! According to recent research, both wine and dark chocolate could potentially have beneficial effects on the digestive microbiome. Before you get too excited, remember the old adage “everything in moderation” still applies! However, as long as you don’t overdo it, you can rest easy knowing that you might be doing your belly a favor whenever you sip back a glass of malbec or savor a delicious bar of dark chocolate.
Scientists at the Flemish Gut Flora Project have been studying the way that the food we eat influences the bacterial makeup of the microbial ecosystem in the human digestive system. In general, their findings have supported the notion that we do, in fact, have a great deal of control over our digestive microbiomes.

Even though no change is going to occur overnight, this comes as very good news: as multiple other studies have shown, the makeup of our internal microbial ecosystem can have an enormous impact on our overall health and well-being. Certain types of bacteria, when they exist in over-abundance, can create a disposition toward weight gain, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and even cognitive problems--just to name a few examples! Other types of bacteria, when present in the right of amounts, might predispose our bodies towards healthier patterns.

Though the exact ramifications of different combinations and ratios of internal bacteria are still being studied, the general rule that research seems to point toward is that bacterial diversity is the “golden standard” that we should strive for. This is exactly why chocolate and wine might be so healthy. As these recent studies have shown, both wine and dark chocolate encourage microbial diversity. This is most likely due to the antioxidants that both of these treats contain.

So here’s to the health of our digestive microbiomes! Have a relaxing glass of wine or a delicious bar of chocolate, and feel good about yourself!