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glasses-of-wineMany studies point to the health benefits of probiotic supplements, the “friendly” bacteria in the gut that promote a balanced digestive environment and in turn support healthy digestion, regularity and immune function. To find them in our daily diets, we often look to fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and kombucha, but a new study shows the same beneficial microbes can be found in your wine glass.

Researchers from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain recently looked at nearly a dozen strains of bacteria commonly found in wine, including some strains of Lactobacillus (found in yogurt). They discovered that not only could those strains survive exposure to gastric juices and enzymes in our saliva—which can damage bacterial cell walls—but that they did it even better than many commonly used strains.

In addition, the strains of bacteria isolated from wine were shown to be especially good at sticking to the intestinal walls, which means they could help harmful bacteria from entering the gut and potentially damaging our health. One strain in particular (P. pentosaceus CIAL-86) was even able to help protect against harmful E. coli bacteria, the study showed.

However, before you decide that a glass or two of your favorite vintage is all you need to support a healthy, balanced gut, keep in mind that it may not be enough. Much of the good bacteria used in the wine-making process are eliminated during another process called sulfating—during which sulfites are added to help preserve the wine and prevent oxidation. Still, says study author study author Dolores González de Llano, probiotics “could be isolated from wine in order to be commercialized as probiotics, or added to functional foods.”

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child-with-inhalerSmokers are not the only ones affected by the health risks of cigarette smoking. According the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen” and is responsible for more than 42,000 deaths every year. Now, results of a new study show that infants and children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of developing allergic disease in adolescence and well into their teen years.

The 16-year study was conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and involved nearly 4,000 children. Parents were asked about their smoking and lifestyle habits during and after pregnancy, and the children were monitored for symptoms of asthma, allergies and other conditions.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke in the womb had a 45% higher risk of developing asthma by the time they were 16 years old. Those exposed as infants or in adolescence had a 23% higher risk of developing asthma and were 18% more likely to develop allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal passages due to allergens). In addition, they had a 26% higher risk of developing eczema (red, itchy skin).

While the link between secondhand smoke exposure and allergic diseases in children is not a new one, this was among the first studies to show that the risk continues through adolescence and into the teenage years. Fetal exposure to secondhand smoke has also been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage, birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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