The researchers also found that people who drank red wine had a lower body mass index (BMI). This also could be why drinking red wine in moderation is associated with health. It’s not that red wine makes you healthier; it’s that red wine drinkers may be healthier to begin with.
“People who drink red wine often also do more exercise and [are] more affluent and healthier,” says Bellis.
The same is true of the gut health question: because the study was observational, the researchers couldn’t establish whether a single glass of red wine a week makes your gut healthier, or people with healthier guts happened to be the kind to drink a glass a week. And randomised control trials, where participants are split into groups and their health measured as they follow different diets, can be particularly unethical when it involves alcohol.
There have been a few randomised control trials – but these have been less than conclusive. A 2016 study found that having one glass of red wine with their evening meal every day for six months didn’t affect the blood pressure of people with diabetes.
Another randomised control study from 2015 found that drinking 150ml of red wine (again, the amount held in a champagne flute), can lower the risk of developing stroke and heart disease among people with diabetes.
In fact, while red wine may be the healthiest drink option, it’s healthier to abstain entirely, says author of the study looking at wine consumption and gut health, Caroline Le Roy, research associate at the Department of Twins Research at Kings College London.
“We know alcohol is bad for us,” she says. “If you drink, it should be red wine, as this is the only alcoholic drink that’s been found to have a beneficial effect, but I’m not encouraging people to drink red wine.”
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