Resveratrol May Slow Aging

Resveratrol, a plant compound found in red wine and red grapes, has for some time been touted as a key to longevity. Now, scientists have discovered that the compound may indeed prevent the inflammation responsible for so many diseases of aging.

The Study

A team at the University of Buffalo recently conducted a small study of resveratrol's benefits on a group of 20 subjects. The subjects were divided into two groups of ten. One group received a daily nutritional supplement that had 40 milligrams of resveratrol, among other ingredients, while the second group received an identical-looking pill that had no active ingredients. After weeks one, three, and six, all subjects had their blood drawn and analyzed.

The Results

The subjects who received the resveratrol-containing pills showed fewer free radicals in their blood. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause oxidation and inflammation and can lead to damage and disease.

The patients who received resveratrol also had less of an inflammatory protein known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF interferes with how the body uses insulin, which can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. In general, the reduction in inflammatory free radicals and TNF shown by the subjects taking resveratrol suggests that over time their risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other typical maladies of aging would be substantially less than that of the general population. The placebo-taking subjects had no such reduction in inflammatory substances.

What Does it Mean?

The scientists acknowledged that because the resveratrol-containing pills were only 20 percent resveratrol, it's possible that some other substance in the pills was responsible for the subjects' results.

However, in previous studies resveratrol has been shown to increase longevity in yeast, roundworm, and fruit flies. The team plans to test again on humans using a more pure form of resveratrol. In the meantime, if you're inclined to enjoy a glass of red wine or handful of red grapes with your dinner, it might not be a bad idea to indulge. You just might be helping yourself avoid some common diseases and prolong your life.

University of Buffalo