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Tequila shot as a probiotic

The idea of tequila promoting optimal health is not a new one. In fact, for thousands of years, alcohol was believed to cure a number of health conditions. There was a time when patients in hospitals were actually served beer because the quality of drinking water was so bad! But as usual, I digress.

Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 485 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.

Can Tequila Promote Health & Wellness?

To answer this question, we first need to know what tequila is composed of. This will vary, of course, but for the most part, tequila is made through the fermentation of blue agave nectar. This nectar comes from the pit of the blue agave plant, which, among other places, can be found near the city of Tequila, in Jalisco, Mexico.

Now that we know what tequila is made from, the real question is…

Does Blue Agave Nectar Have Any Potential Health Benefits?

Similar to honey, blue agave nectar has been used for years to help treat a number of ailments, but there’s very little evidence to support these claims.

Since tequila is made up of fermented blue agave nectar, is it possible that it may have some health benefits, like acting as a probiotic? Remember, probiotics are live bacteria, but good bacteria that can be found in our intestines. These good bacteria are an integral part of our immune systems and keep us healthy. Sometimes folks like to use the term “microbiome” when referring to our intestines and the bacteria found there.

Is Tequila a Good Probiotic?

When I looked at the data regarding tequila as a probiotic, sadly, the findings were disappointing. The research does not support the use of daily tequila consumption to help promote the health of our microbiome. More research is needed before tequila or any of its components can be widely recommended for health concerns.

This myth of tequila supporting our microbiome began when scientists theorized that blue agave nectar, which is different chemically than table sugar, could be a source of dietary fiber. We do know that dietary fiber helps promote the health of the microbiome. But blue agave nectar doesn’t have nearly enough fiber to promote the health of our intestines. Instead, beans, lentils, berries, nuts, and whole grains are better sources of fiber and have been shown to promote the growth of good bacteria in our intestines.

The goal is for most healthy adults to consume at least 25-35 g of fiber each day. No need to consume way more than the 35 g–this may lead to a lot of discomfort and actually the loss of nutrients. Consuming yogurt regularly may also help promote the health of the microbiome, too.

Do Other Forms of Alcohol Promote Health & Wellness?

Other forms of alcohol, like red wine, have been well-studied and have been shown to provide health benefits. There is not enough data about red wine acting as a probiotic, but it seems that 5 to 6 oz. of red wine each day may reduce risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases, like heart attack and stroke.

However, I must include some disclaimers: not everyone needs to start drinking wine to achieve these benefits.

For women that are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant in the near future, consuming any form of alcohol is not recommended. Those with a history or family history of addiction may want to think twice about consuming alcohol.

And if you need some tips on how to avoid peer pressure to drink alcohol, check out the following episode on our other podcast, Optimal Living Advice.

Listen to Greg's thoughts on how to avoid peer pressure to drink alcohol on Episode 023 of Optimal Living Advice.

A note about red wine: it seems that the benefits of consuming red wine doesn’t really start to kick in until around age 40. Meaning that it may not help to start drinking wine when you’re younger.

That means if you want to drink wine to lower risk for having a heart attack or stroke, then you might as well wait until you're 40 years old. Drinking before you reach your 40s may not help reduce your chances of suffering from a heart attack or stroke.

So… Is a Shot of Tequila Good for You?

Tequila likely does not act as a probiotic or promote the growth of good bacteria in our intestines. As I mentioned earlier, more research is required before tequila can be recommended for health and wellness. Other forms of alcohol, like red wine, when consumed in moderation, may help reduce the risk of other diseases like heart attack and stroke. But you can always decrease your risk of these diseases by eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.

Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 485 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.

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Neal Malik

Dr. Neal Malik ("Dr. Neal") has a Doctorate in Public Health with emphases in disease prevention and nutrition. He is also a Registered Dietitian and Certified Health Education Specialist. He is currently an assistant professor at California State University, San Bernardino. Dr. Neal has published peer-reviewed scientific research and been featured as a nutrition and wellness expert in over 70 media outlets including Parade and The L.A. Times.Send in your health related question and Dr. Neal will answer it on the Optimal Health Daily show!
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