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. 😉