Red wine and red grapes.

History of Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a polyphenol that is naturally found in sources such as grapes, blueberries, cranberries, billberries and peanuts. Perhaps the most well-known and discussed source of resveratrol is red wine. Research suggests that resveratrol is a key ingredient in red wine that prevents damage to blood vessels, prevent blood clots and reduces your levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein known as “bad” cholesterol). This polyphenol has been the subject of much research and study for several years, but resveratrol has been used for years.

Early History
In 1940, resveratrol was identified in the roots of a Japanese plant known as white hellebore. Years later, in 1963, resveratrol was also found in the roots of Japanese knotweed, which was used traditionally in Chinese and Japanese medicine. These cultures used Japanese knotweed to treat a large range of medical afflictions from infections, inflammations, liver disease and cardiovascular disease.

Women having red wine in a bar.

The French Paradox
It is widely known that French cuisine features foods that are rich and contain saturated fats, yet the French people are among the slimmest people in the world. Dr. Serge Renaud coined the phrase the “French Paradox” to describe the ability of the French to eat a diet rich in saturated fats and still remain thin. Additionally, the “French Paradox” focused on the fact that French people also suffer low instances of heart diseases. Doctors and researchers theorized that perhaps the alcohol consumption of the French had something to do with their ability to maintain healthy weights and healthy hearts. Specifically, researchers were curious about the amount of red wine that is consumed by the French and whether or not red wine would benefit other diets as well.

The 2000s and Beyond
David Sinclair, of Harvard Medical School, conducted studies the sowed the ability of resveratrol improved the life of yeast cells by as much as 70%. In 2004, another study at Harvard Medical School found that resveratrol lengthed the lifespan of worms and flies. Flies had a lifespan increased by about 30% while worms remained alive 70% longer. Additional studies on resveratrol had the same results; mice given a resveratrol supplement had a longer life expectancy than mice who were not given a resveratrol supplement.

Research and development for resveratrol has provided doctors and researchers with a wide range of the possible health benefits of consuming resveratrol. One of the major areas of study involves the “French Paradox,” which is the study of why the French, who frequently eat foods rich in saturated fats, are able to remain slim and why they have good health especially heart health. Other major studies involve the role of resveratrol in cancer and heart health such as reducing the levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and lowering blood pressure.

While the research on resveratrol continues, many health experts agree that the health benefits of resveratrol are widely beneficial. You can enjoy resveratrol’s benefits by eating grapes, nuts or pouring yourself a glass of red wine. Always consult with your doctor before adding supplements or drastically changing your diet to be sure you are not harming your health more than helping it.

Old couple drinking wine.

Undiagnosed Glucose Intolerance Common in Early Alzheimer’s Disease

New research being conducted at Georgetown University suggests that people suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease should be routinely tested for glucose intolerance. Alzheimer’s is “…a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Most believe that Alzheimer’s is a disease that only the elderly population struggles with, but there are many individuals with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia that has no known cure and that progressively worsens over time. Research out of Georgetown University suggests that those with early onset Alzheimer’s may have something else to be concerned with.

The Study
Dr. R. Scott Turner, MD, Ph.D. is a neurologist at Georgetown University and while conducting a nationwide study on people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, discovered that a large number of the participants were found to have undiagnosed glucose intolerance. According to an article published online at Diabetes News Journal, the study examines resveratrol, a natural phenol which can be commonly found in blueberries, red grapes, mulberries, red wine and raspberries, to determine whether or not it could bring about a change in the glucose levels in patients who suffer from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Turner also noted that resveratrol is believed to act on proteins in the brain in a way that mimics the effects of a low-calorie diet.

The way in which resveratrol works on proteins in the brain is important because previous studies indicate that calorie restrictions can help in preventing issues such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Dr. Turner’s study began with an emphasis on resveratrol and Alzheimer’s and for patients to be admitted he ordered a fasting glucose tolerance test to provide a baseline level. Patients were retested two hours after they ate and a continued high sugar level after two hours shows that glucose intolerance is high. It was during the glucose intolerance screenings that Turner noticed an interesting pattern: “All told, overall prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance of diabetes at two hours was 43 percent or nearly half of the recruited study candidate cohort.”

The Indications
Further research is required to determine what link, if any, diabetes and Alzheimer’s have. Turner’s study was designed to study the effects of resveratrol in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, therefore, it was not set up to study the diabetes/ Alzheimer’s relationship.

All of this information is fascinating, but what impact does it have on your life? First, eating a healthy, low-calorie diet can help in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Secondly, another possible way to help prevent or slow serious diseases is resveratrol. A glass of red wine or a handful or blueberries may do far more than please your palette, it may keep degenerative diseases at bay. Of course, before making any additions or serious changes to your eating habits and diet, it is strongly advised to check with your doctor to make sure you really are making helpful and healthy choices.