Raise Your Glass To Fight Gum Disease!

A lot has been written about the healthful compounds contained in wine, red wine in particular. For us MMers, the most important compound is resveratrol, which is an MM-cell killer in vitro. See my page on resveratrol for more information. And other wine polyphenols have antioxidant properties, too. Of course, since you would probably have to drink a case of wine or more to get enough polyphenols to make any difference, capsules containing the concentrated form are the way to go. However, if you only have gum disease, apparently just a little bit of wine can make all the difference.

I recently read a June 2007 University of Pavia abstract on wine and oral bacteria. These Italian researchers found that wine kills streptococci, the nasty bacteria which can cause sore throats, cavities and tooth decay (I didn’t know that until I read this abstract!). Interestingly enough, wine’s phenolic compounds (tannins and anthocyanidins) did not produce such an effect. What turned out to kill the nasty streptococci were the organic acids in wine, specifically: succinic, malic, lactic, tartaric, citric, and acetic acid (see: http://tinyurl.com/2vqmkl) Taken separately, in a concentrated form, these acids had an almost 100% success rate against eight streptococci strains, whereas when when mixed in with wine (which is the way we would imbibe them), their killing effect was not as powerful. However, even a small amount of wine was found to inhibit the proliferation of the harmful bacteria.

A Canadian study published in 2006 had already examined the effects of grape seed extract on gingivitis and periodontal disease: http://tinyurl.com/2sb9go The abstract concludes that proanthocyanidins have potent antioxidant properties and should be considered a potential agent in the prevention of periodontal diseases. So, those who enjoy a bit of wine with dinner have another excuse to raise their glasses!

Confession: I rarely drink wine, even now that I know that it contains resveratrol. I really don’t care for the taste, unless it’s a really special wine, like a nice Brunello di Montalcino served in a proper wine glass at the proper temperature etc. And I live in Tuscany, the region of wonderful Chianti…oh dear, what can I say? 🙂

A final comment: I read that these wine acids may weaken our tooth enamel. So I guess that I will put off learning to love the taste of a good Chianti for a while yet. In the meantime, I am dashing off to brush my teeth. 😉


  1. I am just SO hoping that some of wine’s beneficial organic acids and other antioxidants are in beer as well! 🙂

  2. Hi Margaret,

    Have you heard of Christina Pirrello? She says she cured her cancer with diet/nutrition. She now puts out cookbooks and apparently has been on PBS, although I’ve never seen her. Here’s a link: http://www.christinacooks.com/mystory.html

    By the way, I enjoy your site and appreciate all of the information you have posted.


  3. Margaret, you are truly indefatigable and dedicated. It is such
    a pleasure to read your blog (but it deserves a better name).
    Years ago I brought back a couple bottles of Chianti
    from San Giminiano (is that right), the Medieval Manhattan.
    They were the finest Chiantis I have ever tasted.
    After a bad spell of gout some 17 years ago I have been
    on the wagon ever since, although I still decant the vintage
    port at our family Christmases.
    But it does mean that if I feel the need of Resveratrol I will
    have to consume a barrowload of grapes each day, not wine.
    Anyhow, thanks for reviving a happy memory of better
    days.Keep well!

  4. Can this be right – you don’t like the taste of wine?? My my. You must be considered an oddity there. Actually, I fell in love with red wine in your country, although champagne is still #1 in my palate.

    Love the kitty photos. Have you ever had a cat piss all over you? No, I haven’t either – that is until last night. I took Pronto over to say bon voyage to the neighbors & their dog or something spooked him. He clawed the daylights out of my chest, then pissed all over me and their front porch (and of course I was wearing a not-cheap silk polo shirt, which now smells like…well. I left it at the dry cleaners today but I think we can say goodbye to it.

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