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Does Resveratrol Really Work?

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Resveratrol’s popularity has been hyped in the media now for nearly 30 years, resurfacing every few months by headlines touting the health benefits of drinking red wine and anti-aging. And more recently, when purported health experts like Andrew Huberman, claim that certain supplements, like resveratrol, can help slow the aging process and improve longevity, let’s just say that the hype just keeps on going. But, despite all the hysteria, rarely does it match the real benefits or health outcomes. Headlines speak volumes in consumer perception, but the science, can bring us back down to reality fairly quickly. And resveratrol, like so many other supplements, works, but to what degree? We’re going to do some digging and give you the real facts, about how Resveratrol works and how well it works, so you can be the judge.

Resveratrol is a bioactive plant compound, known as a polyphenol. It also belongs to a class of polyphenolic compounds called stilbenes. Polyphenols are organic compounds primarily found in plants. They compromise a wide family of molecules bearing one or more phenolic rings. Research indicates that polyphenols may play a pivotal role in human health through the regulation of metabolism, chronic disease, and cell proliferation. Over 8,000 polyphenols have been identified, yet research is still needed to determine their short- and long-term health effects. Studies show that polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could have preventative and or therapeutic effects on cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, and obesity [R].

Resveratrol has been detected in over 70 plant species, especially in grapes’ skin and seeds. It’s also found in discrete amounts within red wine. Like other polyphenolic compounds, resveratrol possesses a very high antioxidant potential. Stilbenes, like isoflavones found in soy, are classified as phytoestrogens, which have several bioactive compounds shown to possess antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antitumor and estrogenic/antiestrogenic activity [R].

Due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, research has shown that resveratrol has cardioprotective, antidiabetic, anti-cancer, and anti-aging effects [R, R, R, R]. Resveratrol is naturally present in many foods like grapes, berries, apples, blueberries, cranberries, peanuts, and dark chocolate.

The most prevalent and commonly known benefit of resveratrol are the antioxidant effects. Resveratrol protects against oxidative stress, one of the primary contributors to chronic disease.

Like other antioxidants, resveratrol contains several protective qualities. Antioxidants protect your body from free radical damage and oxidative stress. Researchers believe oxidative stress could be responsible for age-related cellular damage, helping protect and slow the aging process. Due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of resveratrol, it is believed that it can help from cellular damage.

However, few human clinical studies have been conducted on the long-term health and anti-aging effects associated with resveratrol supplementation [R].

Resveratrol has been shown to reduce blood lipid levels, modulating insulin resistance, and improving glucose levels. In vivo animal studies indicate that resveratrol could attenuate diabetes via increasing insulin action and glucose utilization due to visfatin expression restoration, SIRT1 activation, and glucose transporter modulation [R]. More human clinical research will need to be conducted, in order to determine if resveratrol can provide a therapeutic effect for patients with diabetes.

Resveratrol has been heavily investigated, regarding it’s cardioprotective effects. Studies have shown that resveratrol, improves cholesterol levels or blood lipid concentration and triglycerides, a contributing factor to heart disease. Resveratrol has been shown to decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, often known as “bad” cholesterol.

A triple-blind randomized controlled trial found administered 350mg of resveratrol extract to 75 patients for six months, grape extract (with no resveratrol), or placebo and found that the resveratrol groups LDL had gone down by 4.5% and their oxidized LDL had gone down by 20% compared to participants who took an unenriched grape extract or a placebo [R].

Resveratrol is a noted activator of SIRT1, the NAD+ dependent protein deacetylase that regulates aging, transcription, proliferation, apoptosis, and inflammation. As you age, the gradual loss of SIRT1 expression in endothelial cells, vascular SMCs, and cardiomyocytes initiates both vascular and cardiac aging [R].

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However, resveratrol has been studied and investigated regarding longevity, yet, most clinical studies have shown very little or direct evidence, that resveratrol does increase lifespan, or increases longevity.

Like other antioxidants, resveratrol contains several protective qualities. Antioxidants protect your body from free radical damage and oxidative stress. Researchers believe oxidative stress could be responsible for age-related cellular damage, helping protect and slow the aging process. Due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of resveratrol, it is believed that it can help from cellular damage.

Resveratrol has many neuroprotective effects and has been shown to aid in neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Evidence suggests that resveratrol’s protective effects are not limited to only the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity but also improved mitochondrial functions [R].

Protecting from age-related neurodegenerative disease, can help sustain better memory, motor function, and cognitive functioning.

Mechanistically, resveratrol has been shown to improve hippocampal function, responsible for memory, leaning and spatial navigation. Inflammation has been shown to have a deleterious effect on neurocognitive function, especially as you age.

Resveratrol has been studied in a multitude of degrees within cancer research. Some compounds are not found to be carcinogenetic until metabolized by the body. Resveratrol inhibits the expression and activity of certain cytochrome P450 enzymes and could help prevent cancer by limiting the activation of procarcinogen [R]. Resveratrol has also been found to induce cell cycle arrest and/or apoptosis (programmed cell death) in a number of cancer cell lines [R]. This ultimately means that resveratrol may inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells the basis for how cancer evolves.

The recommended dosage of resveratrol ranges based on therapeutic use. Typical dosages range between 50-500mg per day. However, there is no established upper limit or recommended intake for resveratrol. Supplements, may also vary between potency, based on manufacturer, or the source of resveratrol. Studies at higher dosages, have shown that it can have a deleterious or adverse effect on kidney and liver health [R].

Virtually, all of the studies that show any positive benefit with resveratrol supplementation, have been done with in vitro and animal studies. The few human clinical trials conducted, have not measured longevity, but investigated biomarkers, such as levels of antioxidants, number of cancer proteins, and blood flow. There also has not been any significant effect, to direct investigational studies, for therapeutic use. Your best bet is to get resveratrol through a healthy and diverse diet, full of fruit, veggies, nuts and a glass of red wine every now and again. As far as anti-aging, you won’t see any significant effect or benefit. If you’re looking for the fountain of youth, resveratrol is not the answer.

 


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