Healthy Outlook – SEPTEMBER 2017 – French Paradox in a Bottle
French Paradox in a Bottle
The French Paradox states that although the French people liberally use butter on the bread and meat and fish, eat lots of rich sauces and seem to consume their weight in cheese every year, they stay thinner than Americans and their rate of lethal coronary heart disease is lower. Many Scientists have promoted the idea that is because they drink red wine, rich in an antioxidant called resveratrol. Some argue against the role of red wine and although resveratrol may have a small role in lowering cholesterol, increased alcohol consumption comes with other dangers. In conjunction with their consumption of resveratrol (in red wine) their diets are also very rich in an array of vegetable dishes and an abundant use of herbs, which also contribute to their overall health. That being said, red wine or the supplement resveratrol is not the complete answer to good health but I will take the space in this newsletter to examine its benefits more closely.
Resveratrol is a polyphenolic compound naturally found in peanuts, grapes, red wine and some berries. In preclinical studies, resveratrol has been shown to possess numerous biological activities, which could possibly be applied to the prevention and/or treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases. It is anti-aging, is beneficial to glucose balance, combats obesity, helps bone health and liver health, fights infection (antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial), increases sensitivity to vitamin D, let’s look a few of these benefits.
In laboratories around the world, innovative studies identified the impact of resveratrol on reducing the risks of heart disease and the damage from strokes. Some of these discoveries include the reduction of atherosclerosis, including control of blood vessel diameter and muscle tone, inhibition of oxidative stress, anti-inflammatory effects, inhibition of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) oxidation, and a reduced “stickiness” of platelets leading to a reduction in deadly clot formation.
Many studies are being done on the effects of Resveratrol. In a unique study seeking more knowledge about the complex interaction of resveratrol and heart disease, scientists demonstrated the relationship between resveratrol, inflammation, and blood lipids, immune cells, and the cells lining arterial walls. In this remarkable study, the researchers supplemented atherosclerosis-prone mice with either resveratrol, a prescription lipid-lowering drug called clofibrate, or a control diet. The scientists found that resveratrol-supplemented mice had consistently lower total cholesterol and LDL levels than did control animals. Both the resveratrol and the clofibrate-supplemented animals experienced consistently higher levels of beneficial HDL (high-density lipoprotein) than controls. Importantly, the resveratrol-supplemented group also saw significantly higher levels of a vital enzyme called paraoxonase, which is an HDL-associated protein capable of preventing the LDL oxidation that triggers the inflammatory cascade of atherosclerosis. And in a remarkable finding, the activity of the cholesterol-producing enzyme HMG-CoA-reductase (HMGR) was significantly lower in both the resveratrol and the clofibrate group—a noteworthy finding, since reducing HMGR activity is the target of the widely prescribed lipid-lowering medications called statins.
I could site many more studies but let me sum up by saying there is overwhelming evidence for the benefits that resveratrol has on our heart health.
Nowhere are the ravages of unhealthy aging more visible than in the terribly destructive neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases—and because these diseases are linked inexorably to oxidative damage and inflammation, resveratrol researchers hold high hopes for the molecule’s potential impact in these areas. It has been suggested that, like caloric restriction, resveratrol helps to preserve and regulate energy levels in brain and nerve cells, prolonging their active lives in part through beneficial, sirtuin-activating effects on mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses.
Direct evidence of a resveratrol-mediated neuroprotective effect in Alzheimer’s disease was published in 2009 in a report by Cornell neuroscientists who studied mice given an experimental version of human Alzheimer’s. The mice were given resveratrol over a 45-day period; their brains were then examined for the damaging inflammatory beta-amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite finding no resveratrol directly in the brain tissue, the scientists reported reductions in plaque formation of 48% to 90% in specific and important regions of the brain! These dramatic changes were accompanied by substantial increases in brain antioxidant molecules. The researchers concluded that “onset of neurodegenerative disease may be delayed or mitigated with the use of dietary chemopreventive agents that protect against beta-amyloid plaque formation and oxidative stress.”
Cancer is one of the most-feared scourges of humanity, and the risk of cancer increases progressively with advancing age. It is only in the past three years that significant attention has been paid by oncologists to the chemopreventive capacity of resveratrol—but that omission is being rapidly remedied through an outpouring of new research. Biologists have discovered, for example, that the most active form of the molecule, trans-resveratrol, causes human breast cancer cells in culture to commit the orderly suicide referred to as apoptosis, one of the most important and effective means of treating cancers and of preventing their progression. Scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center even found that they could utilize resveratrol to prevent damage to DNA caused by excess estrogen, effectively preventing the initiation of some breast cancers.
Because of resveratrol acts by so many different mechanisms, it represents a true “multiple-prong” approach to prevention and treatment of cancers. These effects are especially notable in tissues with a high rate of natural cell turnover, where carcinogens can rapidly corrupt the DNA code and induce tumors—tissues such as the gastrointestinal tract and the skin. Oncologists at the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ohio, for example, found that they could use resveratrol to inhibit liver cancer cells from proliferating, and cause them to undergo death by apoptosis, ultimately reducing the size and number of liver tumors in rats given a potent carcinogen.
We’ve long known that resveratrol has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, making it a key item in our armamentarium of supplements that can prevent age-associated chronic illness. The real news is that resveratrol continues to be linked to the life-extending effects of the powerful sirtuin molecules that control the fundamental processes associated with aging itself. By potently activating sirtuins, resveratrol stabilizes DNA to prevent cancerous changes, switches on antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defense mechanisms native to cells and even instructs certain cells to commit organized suicide by apoptosis. The result is an almost incredible array of health benefits, from a reduction in cardiovascular risk factors to protection against neurodegenerative disease to cancer prevention. Indeed, resveratrol is being actively explored now by big pharmaceutical companies eager to cash in on its potency by creating new drugs derived from the natural molecule.
The Vine Daily
Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University