Bugs in Our Guts

Two recent research studies contribute to the growing body of evidence that the population of microbes residing in our intestines plays vital roles in our health. One is a meta-analysis of studies done to determine if taking probiotics alongside antibiotics can alleviate antibiotic associated diarrhea; results are reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association [1]. The other evaluated the effects of red wine on the different species of bacteria in the gut; it appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [2].

Gastro-intestinal health

Study Identifies Likely Mechanism Underlying Resveratrol Activity

National Institutes of Health researchers and their colleagues have identified how resveratrol, a naturally occurring chemical found in red wine and other plant products, may confer its health benefits. The authors present evidence that resveratrol does not directly activate sirtuin 1, a protein associated with aging. Rather, the authors found that resveratrol inhibits certain types of proteins known as phosphodiesterases (PDEs), enzymes that help regulate cell energy.

These findings may help settle the debate regarding resveratrol’s biochemistry and pave the way for resveratrol-based medicines. The chemical has received significant interest from pharmaceutical companies for its potential to combat diabetes, inflammation, and cancer. The study appears in the February 3rd issue of the journal Cell [1].



Quercetin is a polyphenol, one of a number of water-soluble plant pigments called flavonoids (meaning class of plant secondary metabolites known for their antioxidant activity) that are largely responsible for the color of many flowers, fruits and vegetables. High concentrations of quercetin are found in apples, onions, tea and red wine [1]. Other sources of quercetin include olive oil, grapes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, dark cherries and dark berries such as blueberries, blackberries and bilberries. The average U.S. citizen eating a normal, healthy diet including fruits and vegetables consumes approximately 25-50 mg of quercetin/day. Quercetin and other flavonoids (also referred to as bioflavonoids) cannot be produced in the human body.