Wine & Chocolate(Sounds like the perfect date!)
We’ve talked about both of these subjects, often listing their
benefits, but in our latest discussion on chocolate, I left
something out in order to do a bit more research. Yes, we've talked about how
modifies mood and contains a prebiotic, but there’s a bit more to
the subject of mood and probiotics, and interestingly enough, wine
gives us nearly the same benefits.
In January of this year, the
published a study that should come to no surprise to our readers,
since we’ve been discussing (in our newsletter) flavonoids,
anthocyanins, and adiponectin, and insulin since early 2013. Just
recently we’ve discussed probiotics and prebiotics (things that feed
Now, we’re going to put it all together and we’ll need a nice red
wine and a few bars of dark chocolate. Sit back….and enjoy.
We have to define a few things.
Serotonin: A neurotransmitter
(transmit signals across a synapse from one brain [neuron] cell to
another targeted neuron) that is created mostly in the gut and metabolized
by the liver, and is responsible for mood changes. It is biochemically
derived from the amino acid tryptophan.
Dopamine: Both a hormone and a
neurotransmitter that affects a few very important brain systems
involved in reward motivated behavior. A drug addiction results in a
dopamine addiction, in that the drug stimulates the release of
dopamine. One disorder caused by a deficiency in dopamine (or the
release of dopamine) is Parkinson's disease.
Endorphin: The word is derived
from two Greek words, "endo" and "orphin," short forms of the terms
"endogenous" (meaning it has an internal cause or origin) and
"morphine." Thus we have a morphine like substance released by the
There is an internet meme that goes like this:
"Technically serotonin and dopamine are the only
two things you really enjoy."
This is cute, but only someone who believes the
human animal is simply a mass of biochemical/bioelectrical
interactions would accept this as "all there is to enjoyment." An
holistic view of human life goes much deeper than our biochemical
But we do have to admit that when these
chemical/electrical reactions and interactions occur, we do feel
Dopamine is probably the easiest one of the above
chemicals to stimulate the body to produce: A work of art, a pretty
sunset, your favorite TV program, a good joke, and even just a
"taste" of beer can release dopamine.
So, as you can see, one starting point of our
Wine & Chocolate (and beer) theme is the release of dopamine.
However, it should be noted that while dark chocolate will release
dopamine, it is white chocolate (cacao butter) that stimulates the
release of the most dopamine. And in a lot of dark chocolate recipes
there is a bit of cacao butter.
Wine and beer both release dopamine. As far
as serotonin goes, wine wins out over beer, but it is chocolate that is the
real winner in this corner.
Chocolate contains serotonin. Yes, it does. [Dark
Chocolate & Serotonin Levels]
Chocolate also contains L-Tryptophan, a serotonin precursor (something that
comes before something else).
Both dark chocolate and wine contain resveratrol, an amazing
phytochemical that is responsible for the French Paradox (to a
But did you know that both wine and chocolate also affect our
serotonin levels in a number of ways?
This is why I am telling you about this. It’s amazing,
amazing, how science has suddenly discovered (or proven) exactly what
lovers have known for years: Wine and Chocolate bring lovers
Eating dark chocolate (even light, milk chocolate) boosts
endorphins in the brain (it’s the sugar in the milk chocolate
responsible for this), and when that happens, serotonin (the brain's
own "happy chemical") levels are also boosted and dopamine
is released, though dark chocolate
can do this all on its own. Wine makes us happy too, and that’s because
of the endorphins released and serotonin levels are boosted, as well
as the release of dopamine. [Chocolate
and Mood Disorders]
The article referenced above brought up an interesting point:
don’t wash down your dark chocolate with milk, as the milk will
negate a lot of the good stuff in the chocolate. Again, science
recommends a glass of wine.
A recent study (joint study carried out by scientists at Istanbul
Technical University in Turkey and scientists at Royal Holloway University in
London), sponsored in part by Nestles, added probiotics to dark
chocolate, in effect creating a "synbiotic."
If you look this word up, you will find only one
location on the web where it
is defined, and that is Wikipedia’s dictionary, or Wiktionary.
A synbiotic is something that is both a probiotic and a
prebiotic. In other words, it both supplies good bacteria while
supplying the food to feed that good bacteria.
Getting the good bacteria is one thing, but caring for it,
feeding it, is another.
And again, this is where Wine and Chocolate are doing the same
showed that people who drank two glasses of "red" wine (the dry
kind, not some sugary kind) per day had fewer pathogenic bacteria and
better, more abundant good bacteria in their guts. The study also
showed that red wine was a prebiotic too, feeding the good bacteria.
Back to beer (for all you beer lovers). Normally,
most beers will actually help deplete your good bacteria because the
alcohol is deadly to bacteria. Wine has an alcohol content too, but
it is a more balanced drink in that the phytochemicals are caring
for your bacteria. It's a balancing act.
In order to make your beer
more caring for you bacteria, you must choose a "cloudy" beer. Many
home brews are cloudy. Some microbrews are cloudy. Your dark beers
can be cloudy. I know of one in particular called Blue Moon. These
are unfiltered beers. They will actually care for your good
Good bacteria help overall health; they’re good for your
skin, your heart, your digestion, your inflammation, your
triglycerides, blood pressure…the list goes on.
Oh, and one more thing: the good bacteria that the wine
(and beer) cared for
are producing serotonin. For as we have pointed out at this site, time and
time again, upwards of 80% of your serotonin comes from your gut.
And chocolate, dark chocolate, feeds those same bacteria.
We should step aside here and tell you that Concord Grape Juice
also contains much of the same chemicals (phenolic compounds,
resveratrol, etc) that red wine contains. A glass a day of Concord
Grape Juice is just as cardioprotective as wine, though the study
did show that de-alcoholized wine did not produce the same blood
pressure benefits as regular wine. But then, Concord Grape Juice is
not "de-alcoholized" wine.
Now for our finale: remember that study above we mentioned first
published in the
Well, get this.
The study concluded that drinking wine with a meal (even though
alcohol is very much related to sugar) actually keeps your insulin
from spiking after a meal by regulating sugar levels in your
bloodstream while increasing our sensitivity to insulin and leptin.
Something that we already know dark chocolate does too.
The only thing you have to worry about is over-doing it with
either or both. Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing at all.
And if you can keep this in moderation, together these two things
can also help you to maintain a healthy weight.
So, let’s sum it all up.
Both Chocolate and Red Wine:
- Provide antioxidants (resveratrol)
- Lower our blood pressure
- Increase our sensitivity to insulin/leptin
- Release dopamine
- Release endorphins
- Release serotonin
- Feed our good bacteria that, besides maintaining our overall
- And they help keep our blood
sugar under control (thus preventing diabetes)
Is dopamine behind the health benefits of red wine?
Chocolate and Dopamine
Endorphin Theory of Love
here to email this page to a friend.
Who We Are | Links
Help Us To Help Others
Find A Practitioner
Copyright 2014 Minnesota
Wellness Publications, Inc.
For non commercial use: You may copy, print, reprint,
and/or transfer this entire article, if and only if it
is unmodified and in its complete state with this
copyright notice attached and all the links work
properly. All others must contact us in writing.
David's PhotoArt - Fine Art Supporting The International