A growing body of evidence is shedding light on the remarkable health benefits of resveratrol. Discovered nearly 8 decades ago and the subject of hundreds of studies, resveratrol has proven safe and effective in treating and preventing many serious diseases. Its broad-reaching effects are due to its ability to positively influence cell receptors, enzyme systems and signaling pathways throughout the body.
Resveratrol is a natural compound, or polyphenol. It is found abundantly in grape skins, red wine, berries and pistachio nuts, infusing them with taste and scent. Although it’s found naturally in some foods and red wine, you would have to consume mass quantities to obtain the health promoting benefits of resveratrol. For instance, you’d need to drink at least 11 liters (3 gallons) of wine daily, and that is certainly not a good idea! Resveratrol supplements may provide the best way to reap the rewards of this promising, medicinal compound.
Resveratrol is a potent anti-oxidant, a free radical scavenger, if you will. This means it destroys dangerous, unstable molecules produced during normal metabolism thereby protecting cells from oxidative damage. For example, when cholesterol is oxidized, it becomes far more treacherous. Studies reveal that oxidized LDL cholesterol promotes advanced inflammation and the formation of atherosclerotic lesions in blood vessel linings. Resveratrol decreases oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol) and increases HDL, the good cholesterol, leading to better cardiovascular outcomes.
Besides its role as an antioxidant, resveratrol has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Many gerontologists believe that inflammation is a critical factor contributing to aging. Genetic research has revealed numerous “inflammation-related genes” that are linked to diseases of aging such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive disorders and various cancers.
Unsure resveratrol will work as an anti-inflammatory for you? The answer may lie with CRP, or C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation measured on routine blood testing. Check your CRP level before you start taking resveratrol and then again after 6 months of taking 150-500mg/day. You, and your doctor, may be pleasantly surprised to see an elevated CRP level start to normalize.
The combined anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol can lead to significant improvements in cardiovascular health. Resveratrol supports and protects the lining of blood vessel walls from the ravages of oxidation and inflammation that could otherwise lead to arterial damage and blockages.
Resveratrol makes your platelets less sticky, so they are not as likely to form dangerous clots that can break off and lodge in the heart or lungs. Resveratrol promotes relaxation of small blood vessels and decreases dangerous heart arrhythmias. It also promotes the production of a natural chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide supports circulation by dilating blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. Collectively, these mechanisms prevent atherosclerosis and clot formation, helping to prevent cardiac events and stroke.
Resveratrol may contribute to cancer prevention and treatment. Animal studies show that it can protect against the initiation of tumors and their progression. It can safely be taken during chemotherapy and has been shown to protect the body from damage caused by cancer treatments. Although human clinical trials have yielded positive findings, there have been some conflicting results. Further research on dosage protocols and enhancing resveratrol’s bioavailability in humans is urgently needed.
Resveratrol may be helpful in ameliorating or preventing type 2 diabetes. It can lower fasting glucose levels, reduce A1C levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote tissue and wound healing. Additionally, it is effective at reducing periodontal disease, a proven risk factor for diabetes.
Resveratrol shows promise in protecting the brain from Alzheimer’s disease. In part, Alzheimer’s involves the accumulation of beta-amyloid, a naturally occurring protein known to clump together and accumulate as plaques in the brains of these patients. The beta amyloid plaques collect between neurons and sabotage their function. Under normal circumstances, the plaques are cleared from the body during restful, adequate sleep, but some people lack the ability to remove these harmful substances. Although further research is necessary, it appears that resveratrol can break down beta-amyloid so it can be cleared more readily. With Alzheimer’s disease steadily increasing, this may be reason enough to make resveratrol part of your daily supplement regime.
As described, resveratrol sounds like a miracle supplement. Yet, for all its benefits, it is not a panacea. Nothing is. To promote healthy aging, one needs to embrace healthy dietary and lifestyle strategies. Nothing replaces a wholesome, well-balanced diet, consistent physical activity, adequate, refreshing sleep, a support network of family and friends, and a calm, untroubled mind.
Supplements are, quite literally, an add on to a healthy lifestyle. Resveratrol, like other anti-aging nutrients, provides “something extra” --an edge—that allows you to take your health to its optimal potential. Resveratrol is safe, with no known side effects when taken within the lower range of the recommended dosage. Digestive issues may occur at the higher range of 500 mg/day. Resveratrol is not recommended for people taking blood thinners, unless their doctor approves its use.
So, if healthy aging is your goal, and you are looking for a safe anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory supplement that can help prevent dementia while staving off diabetes, cardiovascular disease and possibly cancer, resveratrol may be the right choice for you.