Get drunk with wine?

A few years ago, Harvard researcher Dr. David Sinclair joined the growing ranks of scientists who believe that severely restricting calorie intake can slow down the aging process. Evidence for that surprising phenomenon emerged in the 1930s, when scientists learned that underfed rodents lived up to 40% longer than their well-fed counterparts. The results have since been duplicated in fruit flies, worms, monkeys and other lab animals. And preliminary research on humans suggests that some markers of aging–levels of blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol–improve on calorie-restriction (CR) diets. Dr. Sinclair and other researchers are making progress by trying to understand at the molecular level what it is about CR that seems to slow aging. Sinclair has found, for example, that resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine, increases life-spans of yeast and fruit flies. It works by amplifying the action of a molecule called SIRT1, which is present in all life forms and is produced in response to stress.

Resveratrol obviously does its job protecting plants, but what is its affect when taken by humans? Since ancient times, we have looked on herbal genius as part and parcel of the medications we apply to various, if not all illnesses in our body. Up until now, alternative medicine is still primarily composed of leaves and fruits and even roots. Vitamins and minerals are abundant in the flora that the earth provided for our consumption. In recent times, we have discovered the benefits of phytochemicals beta-carotene and lycopene to the regeneration of good cells in our body.

Resveratrol is a relatively well-known plant chemical found in the skin of grapes, and in wine. There is plenty of research that in less complex life-forms than humans, such as our friend the mouse, resveratrol lengthens life span, decreases diabetes, and keeps the friendly mouse nice and slim.
Resveratrol takes the role of an anti-oxidant in the body, ridding it of free radicals that can cause damage to our cells. There is evidence that shows resveratrol to help in retention of memory. There are also studies being conducted that is looking into the possibility that resveratrol activates an anti-aging gene that lies dormant in our body. If this is true, then we can say goodbye to premature wrinkles and age spots.

Resveratrol can also be helpful to the prevention of cardiovascular ailments. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and may inhibit inflamed blood cells from clogging arteries. Aside from that, resveratrol is also a natural anti-coagulant and may help in preventing blood platelets from clotting and blocking cerebral arteries. When cerebral arteries are blocked, the risk of a stroke happening is multiplied.

Resveratrol is also being touted as the best way to prevent obesity. It acts on triglycerides that get deposited in fat cells, preventing them from massive build-up. Cholesterol is present in two forms – LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein) It is the LDL which is the “bad cholesterol” which can lead to many health problems, while the “good” HDL helps to keep the bad LDL under control. The reason why LDL is bad, is that it oxidizes and forms plague (a build-up) on your blood vessels which leads to the narrowing of the blood vessels, and which will lead to heart disease, stroke and blood circulatory problems. Too much bad fats that accumulate in the body can trigger illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart ailments.

Cancer is also a disease that may be prevented, and may be treated, by resveratrol. Because of its chemical composition, resveratrol acts as both an enzyme and a catalyst to various chemical substances that may cause cancer cells to grow. The good thing about resveratrol is that it only acts adversely to bad and damaged cells, and protects the good cells from getting damaged. When it comes to humans, it is presently unknown whether taking resveratrol can help prevent cancer. Resveratrol is currently being studied to determine how it affects all three stages of carcinogenesis: initiation, promotion, and progression. One of the most recent news pertaining to these studies comes from researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. The research group has demonstrated the benefits of resveratrol in killing cancer cells and shrinking tumors in three forms of cancer including retinoblastoma, skin melanoma, and breast cancer.

It is therefore not surprising that resveratrol has the same characteristics, if not better ones, that can help us maintain the health of our system. While studies into the benefits of resveratrol in humans is still very young, the potential for this compound is incredibly promising and exciting . Doctors have been suggesting one glass of red wine a day for many years, and now you know why. While red wine has been the most well known method of resveratrol intake, there are some obvious drawbacks to drinking an excess of alcoholic beverages. This is why the invent of powerful resveratrol supplements is so important. They allow us to get a higher concentration of the antioxidant, without the drawbacks of alcohol.

Schlachterman A, Valle F, Wall KM, Azios NG, Castillo L, Morell L, Washington AV, Cubano LA, Dharmawardhane SF., Combined resveratrol, quercetin, and catechin treatment reduces breast tumor growth in a nude mouse model., Transl Oncol. 2008 Mar;1(1):19-27.


~ by abelyehdego on November 30, 2009.

9 Responses to “Get drunk with wine?”

  1. This is really interesting because I have always heard that a glass of red wine is good for you. Resveratrol sounds great for all the reasons mentioned: preventive agent of caner, obesity, heart disease, helps slow down neurological degenerative disorders, an antioxidant to keep youth..etc. However, after reading this article I was left wondering the concentration of resveratrol necessary to produce these beneficial results and the concentration of resveratrol in red wine.

    One article I found outlined the good and bad of drinking red wine and suggested that women drink no more than one 5-ounce glass of red wine per day; men, no more than two glasses per day. But are those amounts of resveratrol high enough to be effective…or are the negative effects of red wine out weighing the positive at only one glassful concentration of resveratrol?

    In another source I found that in order to reap the benefits of resveratrol as in research labs, then three five-ounce glasses of red wine would need to be consumed per day (providing 3mg of resveratrol). But for the cancer benefits, the concentrations were much higher. The problem is that supplements of resveratrol do not work in biological systems as well as researchers hoped. And three glasses of red wine a day is above the recommended amount and may start to cause negetive health effects. So the question remains: is ONE glass of red wine is actually helping, harming, or having no effect since the concentration of resveratrol is not enough?


    • I know for the fact that resveratrol affects the estrogen binding receptors in the human body. It looks really similar to the structures that stimulate the receptors( look up Estriol). It is unclear that resveratrol (RSV) is estrogen agonist or estrogen antagonist. Research has shown that it varies where the receptors are. So since estrogen receptors are more prevalent and work best in female body it seems understandable that it would affect the metabolic pathway and the proper functioning of female more than a woman. That is why it is not recommended for women.

      For the second question, we have to realize that RSV is broken down by the liver. Although we can find minimal increase in the resveratrol blood concentration after drinking wine, it is not enough. One glass of red wine has minimal concentration of RSV and among that it will be further be broken down. So would it be helpful? All we have to say it wont hurt.

  2. It is interesting that resveratrol has these many interesting applications. According to Tia’s comment and from your paper, I see that excessively drinking red wine could also have negative effect that counteract the benefits of reseratrol. However, you also said it can be found on the skin of grapes. Why is there a need for resveratrol supplements if we could get it from grapes?

    • Resveratrol in grapes is very minimal. The way we harness resveratrol is very interesting. Grapes secret RSV to protect them from bacteria and fungi. The amount of RSV in grapes in relatively small. The following summarizes it all.

      Total resveratrol (mg/liter) Total resveratrol in 5-oz glass (mg)

      White wines 0.05-1.80 0.01-0.27
      Red wines 1.98-7.13 0.30-1.07
      Red grape juice 1.14-8.69 0.17-1.30
      Red grapes 1 cup (160 g) 0.24-1.25

      the amount of RSV in pills is worth drinking 1000 bottles. It is a lot but since the liver breaks it down there might be a chance it might not completely break it down.

      ( very interesting)

  3. I’m interested to know why white wines, or white grapes, do not have the same benefits as red wines and grapes. I see from Abel’s comment above that there is still resveratrol in the white wines, but why does it appear in smaller quantities? I also found this report that states that extracts from white grapes have been found to have the same benefit as extracts from red grapes in preventing heart attacks in rats:

    Is something else in the grapes responsible for the great health benefits, as white grapes have such a low concentration of resveratrol?

  4. Joining the ranks here, as I’m sure many of us colleges students could do, I too have heard about the health benefits of wine, but it’s nice to see them laid out and supported by a Harvard Researcher! Wow…pretty cool. But, I am dubious of any message that touts the possibility of treating cancer. Perhaps certain types, perhaps with incredible supplemented amounts, but even then, the unpredictability of any disease, let alone cancer, makes treatment from a singular source hardly believable. A good article does not make claims about what something “can” do or has the possibility of doing, but rather what it does, or why we “know” it’s beneficial. Clearly, there are benefits, and that is a good enough thing to discuss as it is.

  5. This is amazing news, that we are finally a step closer to the age old question in human life sciences…”How on earth do we live forever?” or for as long as we can at least. I think this very interesting. I heard that decent efforts have been made to extract enough resveratrol and concentrate it into a drug that delivers enough of a dose for it to have a significant effect on the body, like a multi-vitamin pill of sorts. Do you know anything about this?

  6. Going off of the previous post, has their actually been any research on the isolation of resveratrol at all? Do you think that the resveratrol is actually the compound causing all these beneficial side effects or could it be other compounds in conjuction with the resveratrol? Has their been research done on the correlation of the amount of reservatrol in something like wine and the benefits of that wine?

    • There has been studies on the effects of resveratrol on for example in inhibiting ATP synthase. ATP synthase is a general term for an enzyme that can synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and inorganic phosphate by using some form of energy.This energy is often in the form of protons moving down an electrochemical gradient, such as from the lumen into the stroma of chloroplasts or from the inter-membrane space into the matrix in mitochondria. So when compounds act on this enzyme bind with this enzyme they uncouple the ATP synthesis(energy synthesis) to Food breakdown since they two depend on each other. So when drugs are made to uncouple the energy synthesis with food breakdown so that the energy formed from the breakdown is dissipated ( has to do the proton motive force). Resveratrol is believed to have that uncoupling effect. That is why people who drink wine tend to lose weight. At least the French ones!!!!

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