This viral video on Facebook, with 31 million views, claims that tequila is a probiotic, enhances insulin production, and helps potentiate certain medications.
Is there any truth to this?
Tequila does not contain these benefical live bacteria, as its alcohol concentration would at least atenuate them if not outright kill (lactobacilli are more fragile than pathogenic bacteria) them. Also they are not part of the production process; tequila is fermented with yeast, not bacteria and if these bacteria would be later added, would have to follow FDA regulations and be declared.
Not to be mistaken for prebiotic that identifies foods that enhance the presence of benefical gut bacteria, but does not contain them in a live and active state.
Ethanol /ˈɛθənɒl/ (EtOH), also commonly called alcohol, ethyl alcohol, and drinking alcohol, is the principal type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts. It is a neurotoxic ... Ethanol is used in medical wipes and most common antibacterial hand sanitizer gels as an antiseptic. Ethanol kills organisms by denaturing their proteins and dissolving their lipids and is effective against most bacteria and fungi, and many viruses. However, ethanol is ineffective against bacterial spores.
(Wikipedia) It's common knowledge that Ethanol kills micro-organisms.
Under U.S. law (27 CFR 5.22 (g)), Tequila cannot be sold in the U.S. at under 40% alcohol concentration (80 U.S. proof).
All tequila in the U.S. is at 40% concentration of ethanol or more.
The bactericidal activity of various concentrations of ethyl alcohol (ethanol) was examined against a variety of microorganisms in exposure periods ranging from 10 seconds to 1 hour 483. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was killed in 10 seconds by all concentrations of ethanol from 30% to 100% (v/v), and Serratia marcescens, E, coli and Salmonella typhosa were killed in 10 seconds by all concentrations of ethanol from 40% to 100%. The gram-positive organisms Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes were slightly more resistant, being killed in 10 seconds by ethyl alcohol concentrations of 60%–95%. Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) was slightly more bactericidal than ethyl alcohol for E. coli and S. aureus 489
While the article itself says nothing about killing "good" bacteria, The CDC has studied and found that the maximum time for their selected bacterial species to die in a 40% ethanol solution is about an hour. Given that one serving of alcohol is fully absorbed into the blood stream within 30 minutes to 2 hours after intake, we can safely say that the tequila has more than enough time to destroy bacterial agents.
The people that made that video were most likely misguided into thinking that booze raised your gut bacteria, when it was most likely the tequila plant Agave that is a probiotic. The plant can be made easily into a product called agave nectar, which is a probiotic.
The Facebook video is wrong because they have confused tequila with agave and probiotics with prebiotics.
1) Tequila is made of agave, (Alcoholreviews.com), which contains fructans, which are a type of fiber, which can act as a prEbiotic - a substance that can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the human intestine (Agave.or.kr).
Tequila is a distilled beverage, which does not contain fiber or any other carbohydrate (CalorieKing). Prebiotics are carbohydrates (WebMD), so if tequila does not contain carbohydrates, it does not contain prebiotics.
2) To me, it is apparent that in the video they wanted to mention prEbiotics, but they erroneously used the term prObiotics, which is a much more known word. Probiotics are live bacteria or yeasts that may have beneficial effects in the human intestine (WebMD).
Strong alcoholic beverages, such as 80 proof tequila do not contain live bacteria or yeasts, at least not in sufficient amounts that would make them probiotics.
In conclusion: Tequila contains neither probiotics nor prebiotics.