Men and women who are seeking better health often choose to follow the Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Red wine is another staple of the diet, which many doctors have identified as being beneficial for the heart as well as the brain. One of the secrets of the Mediterranean diet’s success may be the resveratrol that is found in red grapes and red wine. Resveratrol is believed to have a number of anti-aging and disease fighting effects. Learn more about this powerful compound and how it can change your life and your health.
1. Resveratrol is found in many plants. It is a naturally occurring compound that is commonly found in grapes, berries and peanuts. Red wine is the main source of resveratrol in the average diet. Chocolate is a popular source as well. It is a polyphenol, or a micronutrient that may prevent degenerative disease. It is considered an excellent antioxidant. Plants create resveratrol in reaction to injury, stress, infection and fungal attack. Its healing effects are currently being studied in humans, and show a great deal of promise. Resveratrol comes in two forms; cis and trans. Both can attach to a glucose model, becoming a compound called glucoside. Most research on the effects of resveratrol has been conducted on the trans isomer, which is highly absorbable.
2. It metabolizes quickly. The body both absorbs and metabolizes resveratrol very quickly. Bloodstream levels of the chemical peak around 30 minutes after it is consumed. This means that it begins to affect the body immediately after consumption, but does not last long in the system before being altered and eliminated. The effects of resveratrol may be immediate, but also short lived; scientists are uncertain how effective the compound may be once it has been altered in the body. It is difficult to consume a significant amount of the compound from plant sources, so supplements may be a more potent option.
3. Resveratrol supplements deliver a concentrated dose of the antioxidant. Many supplements utilize extracts from the Chinese and Japanese knotweed plant Polygonum cuspidatum. Others garner the compound from red grape or red wine extracts. There is no current FDA recommendation regarding the amount of resveratrol that should be consumed on a daily basis. So far there are no documented side effects for taking resveratrol in large doses, although there is speculation that at very high doses its anticoagulant effects it may interact with warfarin and other blood thinners and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and aspirin, increasing the risk of bleeding. For most patients, there appears to be no danger from taking concentrated doses, but there may be a great number of advantages.
4. Resveratrol has many potential benefits. It may be effective in slowing the aging process and protecting the body from many diseases. Early research suggests it may protect the body against cancer by limiting the spread of cancer cells and promoting apoptosis, or the process that causes cancer cells to die. Because it can reduce inflammation, prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol, and reduce clotting, it may be effective in warding off heart disease and stroke. It can help to prevent insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes, and regulate blood sugar. Some studies suggest that resveratrol is not only effective in increasing longevity and good health, but that it may do so even when other lifestyle factors are unhealthy. Mice who were fed a high-calorie diet and given resveratrol were protected from obesity-related health problems despite their poor diet. Trans-resveratrol may also have positive effects on hormone balance. Both men and women may benefit from taking a trans-resveratrol supplement. In men, it can boost testosterone levels, leading to increased muscle mass, stronger bones, increased fertility and improved mood. In women, it can improve estrogen metabolism and balance hormones naturally.
5. It can cross the blood-brain barrier. Because trans-resveratrol can reach the brain, it may be beneficial for the neural health and cognitive performance. Some studies suggest it can improve memory in older participants. It may combat Alzheimer’s disease by protecting the nerve cells from damage and the dangerous accumulation of amyloid plaque. It may also suppress inflammation throughout the body. A number of studies suggest that resveratrol has the ability to reduce the oxidative stress caused by free radical damage. Reducing oxidative stress leads to a reduction in inflammation, which is beneficial in preventing a number of health conditions.
6. It may be effective against inflammatory arthritis. Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis often experience pain and reduced mobility because of their inflamed joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, the body attacks its own tissue, causing swelling, stiffness and pain in the connective tissue of the joints. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition in which normal wear and tear of cartilage in the joints causes painful inflammation. Resveratrol may shut down the production of transcription factors that are responsible for joint deterioration in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. When taken regularly, it can reduce cartilage destruction. It can also ease inflammation in the joints and inhibit the activation of inflammatory genes. Trans-resveratrol can provide noticeable relief from the symptoms of both types of arthritis.
For patients who are seeking a natural way to combat aging and diseases such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis, trans-resveratrol appears to be a potent weapon. It can be found in low doses in many of the foods we enjoy, and the effects may be even more powerful when the compound is taken in concentrated form as a dietary supplement.