Can Resveratrol slow the aging process?

You can’t avoid aging. As the years pass, the deterioration of the body is impossible to stop but maybe you can slow it down or manage it. There isn’t much known for certain about aging and most of our treatments are little more than wishful thinking. There are a few proven things, however. We do know that calorie restriction will increase the life spans of primitive animals. Studies to demonstrate that calorie restriction will increase the life spans of humans are a long way off but there is enough evidence to suggest that this method may increase lifespans to get some experts excited. There is a problem. Calorie restriction (starvation) is not an attractive lifestyle for most people. For this reason, drugs which stimulate the same gene expression as calorie restriction are exciting some researchers. While the effect on human lifespans is unproven, use of these drugs has increased. One of those drugs is resveratrol.

Resveratrol shows promise for life extension

Many people are excited about resveratrol and believe that it may be important for slowing the aging process. Research on animals has demonstrated that it can prolong life in simple animals 60% beyond normal. The effect has not been demonstrated on humans but many people supplement with resveratrol including some of the researchers.

What is resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a health promoting compound found in grapes as well as other plants which has some very interesting properties. It is a potent antioxidant. It enhances energy production in cells and it can influence gene expression in ways that mimic caloric restriction the only proven method to increase human life span.

What it does.

Resveratrol regulates a gene associated with aging that is found in all life forms. In experiments with mice fed a high calorie diet, mice receiving resveratrol did not develop the normal damage from that diet (diabetes, heart and liver damage and premature death) that mice not receiving resveratrol experienced.

The molecules being affected by resveratrol are cellular-regulating proteins called sirtuins and through the actions of these molecules they mimic the effects of calorie restriction. There is a dramatic increase in the ability to maintain and repair cell, tissue and organ damage that we associate with aging as a result and this is believed to be the reason for longer life.

Resveratrol is also an antioxidant

It is a potent antioxidant that inhibits the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and scavenges hydroxyl radicals. Researchers hope that because aging is strongly associated with oxidation that they will discover more benefits from supplementation with reservatrol.

Reservatrol also stimulates energy production of the mitochondria. Since reduced energy production is associated with reduced longevity, there is a hope that resveratrol will prove to be a strong protection against aging.

The evidence just keeps on growing.

Research has demonstrated that although resveratrol is well-absorbed by human when taken orally, because it is rapidly metabolized, the bioavailability drops quickly after consumption. Because most of the research has involved direct exposure of cultured cells to resveratrol, it is not clear that metabolized resveratrol compounds have the same effects or whether the body is able to convert any of these compounds back to resveratrol.

More recent studies show that resveratrol can significantly affect humans by lowering cholesterol levels and improving arterial performance. Recent studies at the Scripps Institute suggest that atherosclerosis is a reversible condition through the influence of powerful antioxidants like resveratrol.

Should you supplement with resveratrol?

First, there is no evidence that the body is damaged from the consumption of resveratrol in normal doses so there is no reason not to supplement. The decision will come down to how much credibility you find in the descriptions of the potential benefits. The conclusions about the benefits of resveratrol are based on a big percentage of hope and extrapolation from the research. It seems reasonable to associate the health benefits that have been grudgingly been awarded to red wine with resveratrol and its proven ability to mitigate the damage of poor (high calorie) diets and prolong life in mice. These same benefits may also apply to humans. We don’t know for sure. If you supplement with resveratrol, it seems assured that there will be no damage or side effects.

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