Is Your Drink of Choice Hurting Your Gut Flora?

How long does it take you to decide between wines at the liquor store? 15 minutes? 20 minutes? 

I’ll tell you a secret… 

For the most part, you’re not really making a choice. Four to five different companies monopolize the wine industry, polluting their grapes with herbicides and pesticides, and adding preservatives to prolong sale value. 

So the choice is actually an illusion, and what you’re drinking may be further from real wine than you realize. 

Never a fun truth. But now that we’re all safe at home, maybe drinking more than we normally would, and actively avoiding catching an infectious virus…

The quality of our consumption matters more than ever.

You see, when wine ferments in nature, it’s full of bacteria and native yeast.

When wine ferments in the Western commercial culture, it’s robbed of bacteria and native yeast.

Why does that matter?

Because of the gut’s microbiome. You probably already know that the bacteria in your gut outnumber the cells in your body. Maybe you also know that the gut is responsible for the production of several key hormones and neurotransmitters, like 90% of your serotonin.

But did you know that your immune system owes its stability to the diversity and functionality of your microbiota? 

Let’s connect the dots…

Commercial Wines and the Gut

The problem with regular, commercial, liquor store wines is two-fold:

  1. Alcohol itself is a toxin linked to inflammation and gut permeability – you know, the loosening of joints in the intestines (known as leaky gut) which allows foreign materials to pass into and out of the intestines.
  1. The fermentation process of most wines leaves sugar in the wine, which feeds harmful bacteria like Candida in the gut. 

While it’s true that alcohol is a toxin, the natural compounds in wine can actually be quite beneficial. 

Organic grapes, for example, are high in polyphenols and antioxidants (like resveratrol).  Polyphenols are compounds that not only starve harmful bacteria in the gut, but feed beneficial bacteria like prevotella and bifidobacterium

The yeast that grows inside natural wine, saccharomyces cerevisiae, helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals. 

And the bacteria that results from the fermentation process is an excellent probiotic, just like fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) and fermented tea (kombucha) are probiotics. The filtration that happens in the commercial production of wine on a massive scale often gets rid of or taints these helpful compounds.

Now, you might think that sugar is just a part of the wine-drinking experience. And in some cases, that’s true. But in commercially produced wines, the fermentation process is clinical, induced, and stunted…

Meaning that the native yeast in the wine doesn’t have the chance to eat all of the glucose that lives inside grapes.

What to Look For

Instead of subjecting yourself to the wines at the liquor store, it may be worth your time to treat your gut to wine that’s alive.

The powerful bacteria, low sugar content, and low sulfite content (one of the additives responsible for “stabilizing” wine, or removing living suspended particles) in natural wines are tip-offs that your gut will be much happier.

Drinking natural wine can not only improve the bacterial diversity in the gut microbiome, it also almost eliminates hangovers, because you aren’t packing chemicals and pesticides into your body as you’re taking the edge off of a stressful day.

Look for wines that are biodynamic, small-batch, and sourced from smaller farms instead of enormous, synthetic growth compounds.

And if you’re not comfortable venturing outside, or you have low faith in the selection at your local wine store, check out Dry Farm Wines. They’re diligent about their wine sourcing and, an added bonus in the age of coronavirus quarantine, they deliver!

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.