For those who love coffee, and chocolate but feel guilty taking another sip or bite, fret not. Two new studies show that drinking red wine and coffee as well as snacking on dark chocolate is actually good for your gut.
The first study published in the journal Science, dubbed as the Flemish Gut Flora Project, analyzed stool samples from 3,500 local volunteers from Flanders in Belgium. The researchers then compared the fecal analysis' data to LifeLine, a Dutch monitoring program. Meanwhile, the second study, which was also published in Science, used the said Dutch data source for their analysis.
Both studies aim to identify the diversity of the bacteria in the gut based on the person's nutritional diet and find the best microbe for treating gut-related diseases.
Jeroen Raes, lead author of the Flemish Gut Flora Project, revealed how geographical locations and difference in dietary lifestyle affects the microbe composition in the gut.
Lead researcher for the second study, Cisca Wijmenga, revealed that red wine and coffee increase the microbe diversity in the carb. Another key product that helps gut microbiomes flourish is dairy products while full-fat products do the opposite.
By cross-checking the data used by the second study, the team behind theFlemish Gut Flora Project also revealed that Belgian people consume more chocolate than the Dutch, which, surprisingly, also boost microbiome production.
"We were very excited to see that, because that's a very important dietary distinction — we like our chocolate. They like their milk," said Raes.
The data from both studies reveal that despite the difference in location and food choices, there are ultimately a lot of factors that could help in microbiome diversity. The only thing to take note is that the higher your microbiome diversity is, the healthier you are.
"But there is a good correlation between diversity and health: greater diversity is better," said Alexandra Zhernakova of the Flemish Gut Flora Project.
However, despite this good news to wine, coffee and chocolate lovers, the first study identified some key factors that an individual should steer clear off to have higher diversity. These include antibiotics, laxatives, antihistamines, hormone drugs and anti-inflammatory medication.
Raes said that even though the results of the studies are promising, there is still a lot more to explore, including the direct correlation of genetics to how every gut composition is different from one another. Raes added that young as these studies may seem, they open doors for scientists to find plausible drugs from gut microbiome.
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