What about Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is an important anti-aging substance which has been in the news a lot over the past couple years. As a powerful anti-aging antioxidant its health benefits are catching the eyes and ears of people everywhere. Who’d have thought such incredible health benefits would come from grape skins?
What is Resveratrol?
The short answer is that resveratrol is a phytoalexin.
Now, what is a phytoalexin? Phytoalexins are disease fighting agents found in plants. When a plant is under attack by a fungus or bacteria, phytoalexins target the attacking fungal and bacterial cells and destroy them because the phytoalexins are toxic to the offending cells.
Resveratrol is one of many types of phytoalexins and is incredibly beneficial in its ability to target offending cells.
Benefits of Resveratrol
A resveratrol study on its anti aging properties has shown it to increase the life span of fish, worms and fruit flies. The fish in the study typically have about a 9-week life span, but once treated with resveratrol, their life spans increased as much as 56%.
Studies have shown resveratrol activates anti aging genes called sirtuins. These genes are normally “turned off” except when faced with a restricted diet. This is the body’s survival response to possible starvation. Numerous beneficial responses are activated in the body as a result.
Caloric Restriction is the only proven method of life extension to date. Some researchers such as Dr. Roy Walford are proponents of the benefits of CR or CRON (Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition). Sadly, Dr. Walford has passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease so we won’t be able to study his long term personal experiment as he intended. My mother also passed away from this awful disease. It should be noted that CR did not cause the disease in either case. On the contrary, CR has been shown to significantly reduce the incidents of disease and inflammation in many animal tests.
The great news is that Resveratrol appears to mimic the effects of Caloric Restriction. What that means is that it may be possible for us humans to get the same benefits of CR by taking resveratrol or similar polyphenolic compounds. It is unnecessary to undergo the rigorous restricted diet to get the same benefits.
If resveratrol has the same effect on humans as it does on animals as mentioned earlier, that would increase our life span from the current 70 or 80 years up to more than 100 years simply because of the ability of this little phytoalexin to destroy the fungus and bacteria that are trying to destroy us and the incredible responses in the body as a result of the activation of the surtuin genes.
We’re not there yet, but there is promise...
Resveratrol and Cancer
Human studies having to do with the benefits of resveratrol are limited so far but the resveratrol health benefits seen in animals is very promising. As another example, in some studies, mice have been given resveratrol and then infected with a carcinogen. Because the resveratrol destroys offending cells, the mice did not develop cancer, which they would have without resveratrol treatments.
In addition, certain human cancers like prostate, skin, breast, gastric, colon and pancreatic cancers, have shown positive reactions to resveratrol when introduced to each other in a non-human (in vitro) environment.
There are companies that currently doing research on resveratrol compounds and derivatives. Some drugs in development have been reported to be hundreds or even thousands of times more potent than resveratrol by itself. Look to see incredible developments in this area.
So, where can one get resveratrol? As mentioned, it’s found in the skin of red grapes and also, therefore, in wine. Given that many people might not want to indulge in wine, since over-consumption of alcohol has its own issues, where else is it found?
You don’t have to drink wine to enjoy benefits of resveratrol. Eating red or black grapes will give you more resveratrol than other fruits and vegetables. However, you will also find it in cranberries, blueberries and peanuts. Keep in mind, however, that once these foods are heated, the levels of resveratrol diminish significantly, so eating these foods raw is best.
Strawberries also have resveratrol, except that they have the highest concentration in the seeds, not the fruit.
Where to Buy Resveratrol
If you question getting enough of this anti-aging miracle through food, there are plenty of resveratrol supplements on the market, but as with other vitamins and supplements, be sure you are buying from a highly reputable company.
Resveratrol can be found in red wine as we now know. One reason wine is a good source of this wonder supplement is because it will be absorbed into the body as you swish the wine around over your gums and under your tongue. This is called buccal ingestion when a nutrient is absorbed in the mouth. Here’s to another great reason to share a glass of wine with a loved one at the end of the day!
Taking resveratrol-rich supplements in pill form is another option. A liquid form might be more readily absorbed but the powdered form as in caplets have been shown to be effective as well.
There are two kinds of resveratrol - trans-resveratrol and cis-resveratrol. Research has shown that the trans-resveratrol compound is much more active and beneficial. Cis-resveratrol is largely inactive so do not buy supplements with this as the main form of resveratrol.
However, when you try to determine the proper resveratrol dosage, you’ll not find any concrete answers since there haven’t been many human trials and studies done yet.
Resveratrol Side Effects
Again, because not a lot of human studies and research has been done yet, there are not a lot of clinically recorded side effects of resveratrol. However, basic internet research shows many positive side effects along with some other effects that are good to note.
One, resveratrol acts as a blood thinner, which is part of why it’s good for heart health. But, if you’re already on blood thinning medication, please speak with your doctor first.
Others recommend that pregnant women not take it. This is a precaution against the anti-growth properties of resveratrol, although there is no hard and fast proof that it is dangerous to an unborn baby.
So, because of some possible side effects and because there is no concrete dosage information, it’s probably best to start on the lower side of a recommended dosage to make sure your body doesn’t have any adverse affects, then increase as you feel is adequate, or as more clinical information is released.
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