Red Wine & Green Tea Could Help Treat Metabolic Disease In The Future

mbg Associate Health Editor By Darcy McDonough, M.S.
mbg Associate Health Editor
Darcy McDonough is the associate health editor at mbg. She has a master’s degree in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

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If you're a fan of having a glass of red wine with dinner or you're a dedicated afternoon matcha drinker, we have some good news: New research from Tel Aviv University has identified another potential health benefit of the compounds in red wine and green tea. Turns out, they may hold the key to treating congenital metabolic diseases.

If you've never heard of them, individuals with congenital metabolic diseases are missing key enzymes that break down metabolites, which are small molecules that make up proteins. The resulting buildup of metabolites damages nerve cells and causes cognitive developmental issues and mental disorders—most of which you'd never know about unless you knew someone affected by one.

The study, published in the Nature group journal Communications Chemistry, found that the tannic acid in red wine and the epigallocatechin (EGCG) in green tea blocked the formation, and therefore the toxic buildup, of these metabolites. Although it is still in the preliminary phases, these results are a promising sign for the development of new drug therapies for metabolic diseases. Plus, it's encouraging to know that on top of protecting us against cancer and cardiovascular disease, boosting brain health, and helping us live longer, green tea and red wine might be used to treat specific conditions in the future.

Currently, the only treatment therapy for many congenital metabolic diseases is painstaking dietary restrictions. In the case of phenylketonuria (PKU), which affects one in 25,000 infants, individuals must abstain from meat, fish, dairy, nuts, eggs, and beans for life in order to avoid developing cognitive developmental problems. This study provides hope for a more practical and effective treatment, although it's still important to keep the risks of alcohol consumption front of mind as research in this area moves forward.

Interestingly, metabolites may play a role in many other diseases including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as cancer. This study could have major implications for we approach the research on these diseases and treat them in the future.

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