It surely was a Eureka! moment back in 2003 when David Sinclair, a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging, discovered a molecular compound called resveratrol. Resveratrol is a powerful phytonutrient—an organic compound of plants that supports human health.
Found in red wine and other foods like Japanese knotweed root for teas, grape skins, grape juice, cocao, dark chocolate, peanuts, peanut butter, blueberries, bilberries and cranberries, resveratrol was found to extend the life span of the animals in Sinclair’s studies by 24 to 59 percent.
This amazing effect that resveratrol has on life span, Sinclair believes, is due to resveratrol’s ability to activate a gene called SIRT-1, which regulates life span in mammals and slows down aging and suppresses or erases diseases associated with the natural aging process.
That alone is a significant discovery, but resveratrol also appears to support normal cell cycle regulation as well as inhibiting the proliferation of unhealthy cells and the process of angiogenesis, whereby tumors create new blood vessels to fuel their growth. Interestingly, inflammation promotes unhealthy cellular proliferation and angiogenesis, but reservatrol supports healthy inflammation levels by inhibiting inflammatory enzymes.
Speaking of inflammation . . . research continues to grow indicating that resveratrol protects against systemic inflammation by interacting with DNA sequences at the genetic level. Researchers at Boston University Medical Center concluded that resveratrol is capable of influencing gene expression and has a direct impact on human health. They concluded, “the role of phytochemicals acting as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents could be extremely important in inflammation associated chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer."
In particular, antioxidant-packed phytonutrient resveratrol supports vascular health by supporting the endothelial lining of coronary arteries and inhibiting inflammatory cell adhesion molecules in the blood, while stimulating nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) that supports healthy arterial relaxation. Additionally, resveratrol reduces “bad” cholesterol and inhibits unhealthy platelet aggregation (blood clots) that can lead to cardiovascular unhealth.
When it comes to blood sugar health, resveratrol contains effective properties to support normal insulin function that can lower the risk of developing metabolic unhealth such as diabetes. The journal Diabetes published results of a study which showed that resveratrol can influence the regulating gene SIRT-1 (mentioned earlier) that helps protect the pancreas and to improve insulin response. In so doing, it protects against damage from high-sugar diets and metabolic disorders that can result from it. Interestingly, the damage caused by diabetes results when free radicals attack pancreatic beta cells, resulting in reduced insulin secretion levels.
The difficulty, however, lies in the fact that in order to get ample amounts of resveratrol as used in animal studies, a person would have to drink more than 60 liters of red wine daily! No one in their right mind would recommend that, of course, so that’s why many people choose to boost their dietary intake of resveratrol with high-quality resveratrol supplements.
It appears that the Eureka! moments continue for resveratrol, so be on the lookout for more discoveries surrounding this amazing phytonutrient.