Scientists have found a substance in red wine that is slowing down the aging process in mice. Could it someday lengthen the lives of humans, too?
Protecting your DNA from damage and optimizing the expression of its content are two essential and powerful ways to preserve your health. There are a number of ways to do this but my three favorite are optimal vitamin D levels from sun or safe tanning bed exposure, exercise, and addressing emotional challenges at their root cause.
Resveratrol is another exciting new addition that may also have profound benefits to enhance the first three but it is my belief that it should be used in addition to -- NOT in place of -- the first three. I believe there is simply no magic bullet you can take to stay healthy.
It is Insulin Levels NOT Calorie Restriction That Makes the Difference
It is no mystery that insulin-resistant monkeys will die sooner than monkeys with normal insulin levels, and in my mind that is all they proved. I believe nearly all of the benefit observed in studies like these from calorie restriction are related to optimizing insulin levels. So reducing grains and sugars as part of a calorie restriction will lower insulin levels. What this study would likely have found if they gave the monkeys pure fat calories is that they would not have had the side effects that were observed because fat does not raise insulin levels.
It would also have been interesting to see what would happen to the monkeys that had unrestricted access to food if they were regularly exercised.
Resveratrol Complements, NOT Replaces, Exercise
I do find it interesting that resveratrol seems to produce many similar benefits as exercise, and I suspect it would be a powerful addition to exercise. I actually personally take resveratrol because of this belief.
You see, resveratrol is a potent antioxidant found in certain fruits, vegetables and cocoa, that is emerging as a modern-day fountain of youth. The science surrounding this compound is so compelling that it has become one of my all-time favorite antioxidants, and I believe one that shows real promise of health benefits.
Resveratrol is typically associated with red wine, and was originally believed to be the reason for the so-called “French Paradox” -- the tendency for French people to have great cardiovascular health despite a poor diet and love for wine.
Indeed, resveratrol is found in grapes, which produce it as a defense against fungi. Muscadine grapes actually have the highest concentration of resveratrol in nature because of their extra thick skins and numerous seeds, where it is concentrated.
Resveratrol is also found in abundance in red wine, and its highly soluble in alcohol, meaning your body may absorb more of it from red wine than from other sources. But there ARE other sources out there, including cocoa, dark chocolate and peanuts.
What Makes Resveratrol so Healthy?
Resveratrol is making headlines because it appears to slow down aging and even increase the lifespan of human cells. It reduces oxidative stress damage to your cardiovascular system by neutralizing free radicals, and helps support your body’s natural defenses.
Resveratrol is also unique among antioxidants because it can cross the blood-brain barrier to help protect your brain and nervous system, and studies show that its benefits are wide reaching, including:
• Protecting your cells from free radical damage
• Inhibiting the spread of cancer, especially prostate cancer
• Lowering your blood pressure
• Keeping your heart healthy and improving elasticity in your blood vessels
• Normalizing your anti-inflammatory response
• Helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Researchers like those at Sirtris are so enamored with resveratrol because it really does appear to offset many of the diseases associated with aging, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s, in ways similar to the less-desirable method of calorie restriction.
Already, animal studies have shown that resveratrol helped overweight mice run farther and live about 20 percent longer. The compound also prevented mice from gaining weight while being fed a poor diet.
Sirtris has already developed a resveratrol pill that was used in a trial on people with untreated diabetes. The results? Lowered glucose and insulin levels without any changes in diet or taking other drugs.
Is an Anti-Aging Resveratrol Pill on the Way?
There is a reason why GlaxoSmithKline recently purchased Sirtris for nearly three quarters of a billion dollars, and that is, if they’re able to develop a drug that could slow down all diseases, it would be an FDA-approvable blockbuster of unprecedented scope.
So, yes, I would venture to say that scientists are hard at work on this as we speak.
But while this new research is exciting, I have a hard time putting my hopes of living a long, healthy life in the hands of a pharmaceutical company, and I still maintain that the best way to avoid chronic disease is to follow these 10 basic tenets of optimal health.
And if you’re interested in slowing down aging, I highly recommend watching this 30-minute interview with Aubrey de Grey, who is one of the leading anti-aging researchers in the world. In it he explains how aging is a preventable phenomenon, and much like a disease, merely a side effect of being alive.
He believes humans could live for several centuries, if only we approach the aging process as an “engineering problem.” Fascinating stuff … and further proof that solving the mysteries of human aging will likely not be done with one pill.
Still, if you are interested in trying out some resveratrol for yourself, there are numerous products already on the market. Be sure to look for one made from muscadine grapes that uses WHOLE grape skins and seeds, as this is where many of the benefits are concentrated.