General | March 30, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Resveratrol has been hailed as one of the most exciting nutraceuticals—receiving plenty of research attention because of its pharmacological benefits. Found in red wine, dark coloured berries, peanuts and even real dark chocolate—resveratrol is a polyphenol which helps to slow down the ageing process and protect against numerous chronic diseases. It achieves this by exerting powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions in the body.
Resveratrol’s presence in red wine has been suggested as a solution to the “French paradox”— the observation of an unexpectedly low rate of heart disease among Southern French people who consume a lot of red wine, despite their diets being high in saturated fat.
So what exactly is resveratrol and how can we get it more of it in our diet?
Resveratrol is an antioxidant but to be more specific it’s a phenolic bioflavonoid. Specific foods including the skin of grapes, blueberries, raspberries and mulberries are naturally high in this compound.
These plants produce resveratrol as part of their protective mechanism in response to infection, disease, injury or predators.
Lucky for us when we consume these foods rich in resveratrol they provide benefits for our heart, brain, blood sugars and overall health.
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Resveratrol was first discovered to possess these health benefits when researchers found that microbes, insects, fish, worms and animals fed resveratrol experienced an increased life-span as a result.
Unfortunately, these results have not been confirmed in humans, but resveratrol has been proven to reduce a variety of markers which are elevated in certain chronic diseases.
The use of resveratrol is of particular interest for cancer patients because of the high risks associated with traditional treatments and the need for alternative therapeutics. In vitro and in vivo studies on resveratrol have discovered it’s a promising anticancer agent. This is because of resveratrol’s ability to affect all three stages of carcinogenesis—from it’s initiation, promotion and progression.
Prostate, breast and colorectal cancers have been found to benefit from the effects of resveratrol.
It’s believed the mechanisms for its cancer-protecting activities involves targeting multiple pathways—such as inducing cell death and downregulation of the inflammatory response.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Needless to say, looking after your heart is pretty important. Because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, resveratrol has been suggested to promote cardiovascular health, and has therefore been extensively studied as a treatment for prevalent cardiovascular diseases.
Clinical trials have found resveratrol effective in improving left ventricular systolic and diastolic function of the heart. In addition to this it reduces LDL cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, the formation of blood clots, plaque in the arteries and blood pressure.
Clinical trials of resveratrol as an inducer of calorie restriction-like effects and as a treatment of obesity have produced mixed results. One study found that treatment of obese men with 150 mg/day of resveratrol for 30 days resulted in improved cellular and systemic markers of metabolism, such as increased mitochondrial respiration in the muscle and decreased circulating glucose and triglycerides. However, another study failed to reproduce these same findings.
Animal studies involving diabetic rats have demonstrated that resveratrol has the ability to improve glycaemic control by decreasing insulin resistance and delaying glucose peaks after meals. It may also be helpful in reducing complications such as damage to nerves and the heart.
Unlike other antioxidants, resveratrol is a unique antioxidant as it can cross the blood-brain barrier to protect the brain and nervous system. It also increases blood flow to the brain and reduces several biomarkers which have been identified in brain ischaemic stroke and Alzheimer’s.
In a trial conducted by Chen et al., patients who had suffered from a stroke with a clearly defined time of onset were treated with resveratrol along with standard medical treatment. The study showed that resveratrol improved the outcome for patients receiving delayed medical treatment.
Many of the studies performed on resveratrol have been performed on animals and may not transfer to health benefits in humans. Overall there’s support for its positive attributes, but data is still needed to confirm its effectiveness for prevention of actual diseases in humans rather than just markers.
Resveratrol can be naturally consumed as food. Sources include:
Now this doesn’t mean you can gorge yourself on chocolate and drink excessive amounts of alcohol as this would be harmful to your health. Studies have found that drinking two standard drinks and one standard drink for females each day are the recommended amounts which provide protection.
Another way to boost amounts is by taking resveratrol as a supplement. Usually resveratrol is derived from Fallopia japonica which is commonly known as Asian or Japanese knotweed. Recommended amounts may vary but 300mg/day is a dose likely to provide health benefits.