Heard the rumors that wine might *actually* be good for your health? We have.
After some debate, Harvard Medical School researchers are now saying that this might just be true - confirming that resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, does provide anti-aging benefits after all.
If you haven’t already checked out Jena’s Instagram Live with Harvard Medical Scientist Dr. David Sinclair, you can find the transcript here where Jena and David discuss the crazy advancements that he and his Harvard team are making to reverse aging (in as little as four weeks).
Today we’re looking at resveratrol - one of the three key anti-aging supplements that Dr. David Sinclair said that he *personally* takes.
So, what is resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a natural compound that is found in tons of foods - including red grapes (particularly the skin of the grapes), cocoa peanuts, blueberries, and Japanese knotweed among others.
Resveratrol is a phytoalexin (a compound that stops the development of fungus in hypersensitive tissues), is an antioxidant, and also an antimicrobial compound that is produced by plants to protect them from environmental stressors (ie. stressful climate, plant infections & excessive ultraviolet light). It’s natural and very powerful.
When ingested, the antioxidant benefits are not dissimilar for humans as they are for plants - and they are now known to be able to help fight against the aging process too.
How do they fight against aging?
Understanding aging is important to understand how resveratrol works.
So, the 101 on anti-aging.
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells in our body.
They create ATP (the chemical energy molecule that is needed to power all of the processes in our body) but the function of these mitochondria declines over time as they become weaker. This means less energy production, meaning the aging process starts as the processes in the body become less well powered.
Another issue with mitochondria is that they also create waste products as they work.
The highly reactive molecules they create (known as reactive oxygen species) do damage to the body (known as oxidative stress) - causing inflammation and interference with the body’s cellular processes. This process is further driven by more oxidative stress in our body from a ton of other sources (mental stress, emotional trauma, as well as the products and chemicals we consume and ingest).
The body heavily depends on antioxidants like glutathione to neutralize the free radicals swarming the body. Antioxidants work by stopping these chain reactions and preventing the damage they cause to the body.
Resveratrol is an antioxidant that helps fight against this oxidative stress, the free radicals, inflammation in the body, and the aging process.
Is this backed by science?
It is, if a little controversial.
Dr. David Sinclair and his Harvard team have now proved, in a study, that resveratrol consumption stimulates the production of SIRT1.
SIRT1 is a member of the protein family and its key function is in the body’s cellular response to inflammatory, metabolic, and oxidative stressors
It is thought to be an ‘anti-aging regulator’ by playing a crucial role in:
- Anti-apoptosis (stopping sporadic cell death that can be associated with neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders, and cancer);
- Anti-inflammation; and
- Suppressing pro-inflammatory gene expression.
There was a lot of controversy around this SIRT1 compound (because initial testing was completed on a man-made chemical group that, when removed from the experiment, impacted the outcome). Some scientists believed that, because of this, SIRT1’s activity was a lab construct and didn’t exist in human nature and couldn’t be transferred to the human body.
However, Harvard’s more recent research repeated the experiment using a tryptophan-based residue (rather than a chemical compound), and the experiment succeeded - showing that resveratrol was able to speed up mitochondria in the cells they were looking at - by activating more SIRT1. They concluded that resveratrol directly activates SIRT1 in cells and is the only compound that binds to a protein and activates SIRT1 to make it run faster.
The Harvard Medical Team is now looking ahead to engineering molecules that can more effectively trigger the effects of resveratrol.
Not only does resveratrol acts similarly to a powerful antioxidant against anti-aging, but there are other health benefits too:
- Increase in heart health - the antioxidant properties can help to improve circulatory and pulmonary function, lowering the risk of heart attack by lowering LDL cholesterol in the blood, making it harder for blood to clot and cause a heart attack or stroke.
- Protection against diabetes - preventing insulin resistance and helping the body’s natural ability to reduce blood sugar levels. Insulin control -n and stable levels of insulin - reduce levels of inflammation in the body, thus reducing the inflammatory driven causes of premature aging.
- Neuroprotective mechanisms - resveratrol is thought to slow the development of nerve cell plaque which damages nerve cells over time, interferes with brain function, and can lead to Alzheimer's. Research is lacking in this area, but it is thought to be a valuable and potentially protective benefit from taking resveratrol.
So, how should I supplement with resveratrol?
First up, we always advise talking to a doctor or medical/naturopathic practitioner before self-dosing.
Quality is critical, though, whichever supplement you choose - and we always advise trying to incorporate more resveratrol-heavy, organic, foods into your diet, where possible. Foods highest in Resveratrol include red grapes- that includes your Biodynamic glass of red wine, blueberries, mullberries and cacao.
Dr. David gave us specific guidance that the resveratrol you take has to be 98% pure or more and if the resveratrol is not light grey or white then throw it away. It’s also important to mix it too, if you swallow it alone, it won’t be absorbed well - so mix it with yogurt, perhaps some olive oil or have it with a meal.
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.