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Resveratrol’s Health Benefits Go Beyond Anti-Aging

What is resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a compound found in a variety of plants including cranberries, raspberries, peanuts, pine trees, and grapes.

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The primary dietary sources in an average person’s diet are peanuts, peanut butter, grapes, and wine. The compound is particularly concentrated in red wines such as pinot noir. Resveratrol is produced in the grape skin in response to a bacterial infection that affects the plant, thus acting as a natural antibiotic.

Resveratrol is classified as a polyphenol because of its chemical structure. Polyphenols make up a huge group of plant compounds that are further broken down into other classifications such as flavonoids and proanthocyanidins, which are potent antioxidants. Resveratrol is also a phytoestrogen, a substance that mimics some of the effects of estrogen while blocking others.

In the early ‘90s, scientists finally discovered that it is the secret ingredient found in the traditional Asian heart remedies that contain Polygonum—a plant that is abundant in resveratrol. These medicines are prescribed for liver and heart conditions. Since then, hundreds of studies have shown that resveratrol is beneficial to a long list of health concerns. And just recently, a Harvard research team found that resveratrol improved the health and survival of obese mice.3

How does resveratrol work?

Thousands of animal experiments have demonstrated that resveratrol has anti-aging benefits, as well as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiplatelet, cholesterol-lowering, and mild estrogenic activities.

There are numerous theories, however, as to how it produces a wide range of health benefits. Harvard researchers have noted there is evidence suggesting that calorie restriction can extend lifespan across a range of species. And after screening thousands of molecules, they found that resveratrol mimics calorie restriction in yeast: activating enzymes that slow aging, increasing the stability of DNA, and extending lifespan by as much as 70%.12 Researchers suspect plants make these age-slowing molecules as a defense response.

Another Harvard research team recently found that resveratrol improved the health and survival of obese mice. Resveratrol increased insulin levels while decreasing glucose levels, resulting in healthier liver and heart tissue when compared to obese mice that did not receive treatment. "After six months, resveratrol essentially prevented most of the negative effects of the high-calorie diet in mice," said study co-author Rafael de Cabo of the National Institute of Aging (NIA).3

This study is significant because of the obesity epidemic in the United States. Resveratrol may well point the way to a new approach for treating obesity-related disorders and preventing age-related diseases in humans, like cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes.

Reservatrol had previously been shown to prevent damage to liver tissue, says Matt Kaeberlein, a pathologist at the University of Washington; the compound could be staving off age-related diseases by keeping the liver healthy. He notes that more work needs to be done to determine if resveratrol affects other parts of the body as well.4

“Even if resveratrol does turn out to be a miracle drug, a wine glass would probably not be the preferred delivery method. According to Kaeberlein, it would take over 300 glasses of wine per day to equal the amount of resveratrol fed to the obese mice in this study.”4

An earlier study showed that resveratrol might also extend the lifespan of vertebrate animals. Researchers found that adding resveratrol to the daily diet of a small fish that naturally age rapidly and typically live only three months, prolonged its lifespan, delayed the onset of age-related problems, and improved cognitive function.

Researchers found that fish fed the lower dose of resveratrol lived an average of 33% longer than fish fed their normal diets, while those fed the higher dose of resveratrol lived more than 50% longer. The researchers reported that the findings suggest that resveratrol is the first compound to consistently prolong the life of several very different animal groups and could become the stepping-stone for creating drugs to prevent age-related diseases in humans.5

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Editor's Note:

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This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.

References

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  4. Swaminathan, Nikhil “The Fountain of Youth at the Bottom of a Wine Bottle?” Scientific American.com, Nov. 2, 2006. 

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  6. Review Article: Resveratrol, 11/30/06.

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  8. Jubilee R. Stewart and Catherine A. O'Brian Resveratrol antagonizes EGFR-dependent Erk1/2 activation in human androgen-independent prostate cancer cells with associated isozyme-selective PKC alpha inhibition. Invest New Drug, 2004;22(2):107-117.

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  10. Murray GI, Taylor MC, McFadyen MC, Mckay JA, Greenlee WF, Burke MD, Melvin MF. 1997. Tumor-specific expression of cytochrome P450 CYP1B1. Cancer Res 57(14):3026–31.

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  12. Banerjee S, Bueso-Ramos C, Aggarwal BB. 2002. Suppression of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a) anthracene-induced mammary carcinogenesis in rats by resveratrol: role of nuclear factor-κB, cyclooxygenase 2, and matrix metalloprotease 9. Cancer Res 62(17):4945–54.

  13. Trincheri NF, Nicotra G, Follo C, Castino R, Isidoro C. Resveratrol induces cell death in colorectal cancer cells by a novel pathway involving lysosomal cathepsin D. Carcinogenesis. 2006 Nov 20.

  14. Wang Z, Zou J, Cao K, Hsieh TC, Huang Y, Wu JM. Dealcoholized red wine containing known amounts of resveratrol suppresses atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic rabbits without affecting plasma lipid levels. Int J Mol Med. 2005 Oct;16(4):533-40.

  15. Shen M, Jia GL, Wang YM, Ma H. Cardioprotective effect of resveratrol pretreatment on myocardial ischemia-reperfusion induced injury in rats. Vascul Pharmacol. 2006 Aug;45(2):122-6. Epub 2006 Jun 12.

  16. Haider, U.G. et al. Resveratrol increases serine 15-phosphorylated but transcriptionally impaired p53 and induces a reversible DNA replication block in serum-activated vascular smooth muscle cells.Mol. Pharmacol. 200;363:925-32.

  17. Zbikowska, H.M. et al. Antioxidants with carcinostatic activity (resveratrol, vitamin E and selenium) in modulation of blood platelet adhesion. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 2000;51:513-20.

  18. Novakovic A, Bukarica LG, Kanjuh V, Heinle H. Potassium channels-mediated vasorelaxation of rat aorta induced by resveratrol.Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2006 Nov;99(5):360-4.

  19. Jang M, et al. Cancer chemopreventive activity of resveratrol, a natural product derived from grapes. Science 1997;275(5297):218-20.

  20. Subbaramaiah K, et al. Resveratrol inhibits cyclooxygenase-2 transcription and activity in phorbol ester-treated human mammary epithelial cells. J Biol Chem 1998;273(34):21875-82.

  21. Elmali N, Baysal O, Harma A, Esenkaya I, Mizrak B. Effects of Resveratrol in Inflammatory Arthritis. Inflammation. 2006 Nov 4.

  22. Schroecksnadel K, Winkler C, Wirleitner B, Schennach H, Weiss G, Fuchs D. Anti-inflammatory compound resveratrol suppresses homocysteine formation in stimulated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2005;43(10):1084-8.

  23. Anekonda TS. Resveratrol--a boon for treating Alzheimer's disease?Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2006 Sep;52(2):316-26.

  24. Wang J, Ho L, Zhao Z, Seror I, Humala N, Dickstein DL, Thiyagarajan M, Percival SS, Talcott ST, Pasinetti GM. Moderate consumption of Cabernet Sauvignon attenuates Abeta neuropathology in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. FASEB J. 2006 Nov;20(13):2313-20.

  25. Marambaud P, Zhao H, Davies P. Resveratrol promotes clearance of Alzheimer's disease amyloid-beta peptides. J Biol Chem. 2005 Nov 11;280(45):37377-82. Epub 2005 Sep 14. PMID: 16162502.

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14 Comments

Can astragaloside and resveratrol
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I eat about 8 pounds of grapes per month.  red, green or purple it doesn’t matter. but it’d be nice to take a resveratrol pill everyday like a vitamin so I know I’m getting all the health benefits from it. Could you please get on board with the pill idea?  Thanks.

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