Originally published September 22 2008
Resveratrol Improves Health and Longevity in Aging Mice on a High-Calorie Diet
by Dr. Phil Domenico
(NaturalNews) Such important information should not be downplayed by the mass media. Yet that is exactly what just transpired. Instead, the headlines read: "Resveratrol Found to Improve Health, But Not Longevity in Aging Mice on Standard Diet". In other words, they chose not to report the most important outcome from the study.
I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, or think that news from the prestigious National Institutes of Health could be so cynical and distorted. Yet, either someone doesn't understand the essence of this study, or does not want other people to know about it. Unfortunately, the latter is closer to the truth. It has become abundantly clear that those in power (i.e., the Pharmaceutical Industry) do not want people to know that a simple antioxidant contained in many foods and supplements can have such powerful health effects. And, if resveratrol can truly reverse the ravages of a poor diet, and enhance longevity in those who are overweight, Big Pharma will want to have complete control over it.
Apparently, they already have control over the mass media. How else could such an important story go untold? With most people in America overweight, similar to the mice in the high-calorie group, how could this not be front-page news? For those of you who don't get it, the connection between the pharmaceutical industry and mass media is simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, the press can be bought, and Big Pharma has an enormous amount of capital expressly for these purposes. Money talks.
This study was the result of an extensive collaboration between Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D. at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), David A. Sinclair, Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School, and 13 other institutions globally. Their findings were published in the July 3rd, 2008 issue of Cell Metabolism. The researchers showed that resveratrol prevented age- and obesity-related decline in cardiovascular function in older mice, as determined by several parameters. Total cholesterol and inflammation was significantly reduced and blood vessels functioned significantly better in the treated mice. Treated mice also tended to have better bone health, reduced cataract formation, and enhanced balance and motor coordination, whether on a standard or a high-calorie diet. All this from the key ingredient in red wine that keeps bread and cheese-eating Frenchies from getting heart disease.
However, the highlight of the study was about longevity. That's the real promise of resveratrol, but apparently only for mice on a high-calorie diet. The researchers speculated that controlling fatty changes in the blood vessels and liver were contributing factors.
Resveratrol has been shown to enhance longevity in worms and fruit flies, but this current study supports the effect in mammals. In fact, a smaller mouse study was performed in 2006 with a similar outcome. In the prior study, resveratrol produced changes associated with longer lifespan, including improved insulin function, increased mitochondrial number, and improved motor function. Resveratrol canceled out the ill effects of a high-calorie diet in 144 of 153 activated genes. The data imply that it is possible to improve health simply by taking a pill; not one of those expensive drugs with a host of negative side effects, but one containing a promising antioxidant found in healthy foods and beverages. For most, drinking red wine may be preferable to popping pills. Yet, much more resveratrol can be concentrated in supplements, and it is likely that many glasses of wine will be required for maximum benefits. That may be fine for some, but one day the optimum dose may be added to wine so that one or two servings do the trick.
Granted, these findings are based on mice, not humans. Furthermore, the overweight mice in these studies did not necessarily lose weight. Nevertheless, they were able to enjoy a high-calorie diet and live substantially longer. How can you beat that? Moreover, it is possible to be overweight and still be relatively healthy. Given the current obesity epidemic among humans, what a difference resveratrol could make. It does not replace good, old-fashioned discipline in diet and exercise, but it would be a great start to help reduce health care costs under the current conditions.
There are still many questions remaining about safety, dosing and clinical efficacy before resveratrol can be recommended for human use. That being said, let's hope that Big Pharma doesn't continue to stall awareness of health issues for the sake of profit, or to find a way to squelch this research altogether.
Baur JA, Pearson KJ, Price NL, et al. Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a high-calorie diet. Nature 2006;444:337-342.
About the authorDr. Phil Domenico is a nutritional scientist and educator with a research background in biochemistry and microbiology. Formerly an infectious disease scientist, he now works as a consultant for supplement companies and the food industry.
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