Resveratrol (3,4′,5- trihydroxystilbene) is a plant flavonoid (phytonutrient) found in red and purple grapes, red wine, berries (cranberries, blueberries, mulberries etc), cocoa (dark chocolate), and peanuts. It works as a powerful antioxidant and has been found beneficial in promoting health and longevity by improving several cardio-metabolic biomarkers. An excellent safety profile of resveratrol further supports its use as an adjunct to pharmacological management of many inflammatory age-related chronic diseases.
Research suggest that multiple health benefits of resveratrol coincide in its power to neutralize harmful free radicals and pro-inflammatory compounds (i.e. nuclear factor kappa B, cyclooxygenases and lipoxygenases etc) that cause oxidative stress, inflammation and cell damage inside your body. This anti-inflammatory mechanism, protects your cell’s DNA, reduces signs of aging and prevents chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, diabetes, neurological disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are some of the significant healing benefits of resveratrol:
- Improves Heart Health: Resveratrol is especially found beneficial for improving heart health. It protects the heart by preventing atherogenic inflammatory conditions through lowering cholesterol levels, expanding blood vessels and regulating blood pressure. These mechanisms reduce the risk of plaques (blood clots) build-up in the arteries, which can cause heart attacks and stroke. In a scientific research 150 mg/day of resveratrol taken for 1 month has significantly lowered blood pressure, inflammation and plasma triglyceride concentrations.
- Protects Brain: Resveratrol promotes brain and neurological health too. It is a unique antioxidant that can cross blood-brain barrier and thus has the ability to protect brain and nervous system from free-radical damage and plaque build-up. Resveratrol’s protective effects on nerve and brain cells, besides enhancing brain functions such as memory, focus and learning; help in preventing neuro-degenerative conditions such as vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Boosts Energy: Resveratrol has the ability to induce activity of a protein called PGC-1α, which is required for development of cell power station (i.e. mitochondria) in various body tissue such as muscle, brain and heart. These newly generated mitochondria help in generating more energy and preventing oxidative stress. Animal studies found that resveratrol can reduce physical fatigue and improve athletic performance. For these reasons, resveratrol has become popular among athletes to improve their endurance and cardiac function; reduce exercise induced oxidative damage; and enhance recovery. Reservetrol can also help in improving energy levels of people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Fights Obesity: Resveratrol can enhance weight loss through stimulating production of adiponectin hormone that plays an important role in fat metabolism and regulation of blood glucose and lipid levels. In one study, when mice were given resveratrol daily, they did not gain weight, despite consuming a high calorie and fat diet.
- Manages Diabetes: Resveratrol can promote metabolic health in people suffering from metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. It is found helpful in increasing insulin sensitivity, decreasing blood glucose levels, and positively regulating several other biomarkers associated with diabetes. Therefore, it is often recommended for people suffering from diabetes to improve overall wellness.
- Prevents Cancer: Resveratrol can prevent cancer through many pathways. Besides, its strong anti-inflammatory effect, it prevents cellular DNA damage; reduces blood supply to tumor cells and inhibits cancer cell proliferation. However, resveratrol is found more effective in certain types of cancer than in others, for example it was found to be possibly useful in slowing breast cancer, but may not be useful in multiple myeloma patients. So, resveratrol’s use as chemopreventive or chemotherapeutic agent still warrants further research confirmation. Answers to Your Breast Cancer Questions
- Enhances Longevity: In animal studies, resveratrol has shown the ability to slow down the aging process and increase the life spans. Some evidence of its anti-aging benefits in humans were found, when it was discovered that resveratrol activates an enzyme called SIRT1. SIRT1regulates the pathway that affects metabolism, inflammation-immune function, endothelial functions, stress resistance, circadian rhythms and cell survival; thus can help in preventing metabolic inflammatory diseases and increasing the lifespan.
- Men’s Health: Resveratrol can increase testosterone (male sex hormone) levels, which help in enhancing bone health, muscle strength and fertility in men.
- Women’s health: Research suggests that resveratrol also improves production of oestrogen, which can improve hormonal health and inhibit development of endometriosis.
- Alleviates Pain: Resveratrol’s strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties help in reducing oxidative damage and decreasing pain and swelling associated with various age-related chronic degenerative diseases such as arthritis.
Besides these, resveratrol has some antibacterial and antiviral effects; safeguards vision from age-related eyesight problems; boosts muscle health; strengthens bones and improves circadian rhythm.
Further, research suggests that besides oral consumption, topical application of resveratrol may also provide significant protection against skin aging. Its antioxidant effects help in preventing wrinkles, skin blemishes and UVB-mediated skin damage. It also helps in stimulating healthy cell proliferation and collagen synthesis to provide skin rejuvenating benefits.
Sources: Resveratrol is produced in plants as a defence against bacterial, fungal, and other microbial attacks; or to withstand extreme stressful conditions like drought, lack of nutrients or strong UV radiation. So, the amount of resveratrol in food sources depends on exposure to infection, their geographic origin and cultivation methods.
To get adequate amount of it, include resveratrol rich foods such as red grapes, peanuts, plums, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, and pomegranate in your diet. It is also available in supplement forms; however therapeutic efficacy of resveratrol depends on several factors. It has low systemic bioavailability and not-well absorbed, until it is taken in sufficient amount (100-250 mg/day), in its highly bioactive “trans” form.
Mostly, supplementation with resveratrol is safe, but it can interact with blood thinners, so patients who have blood disorders, anemia, or are on blood thinning/anti-clotting/pain relieving medications (aspirin, heparin, warfarin, clopidogrel and ibuprofen), or undergoing surgery; should not take it. Resveratrol has also shown interaction with immune-suppressants and certain medications used to manage blood pressure and anxiety.
Also, due to resveratrol’s estrogen-like effects women suffering from cancers (breast, ovary, uterus) and other conditions that are estrogen sensitive should not take resveratrol. For the same reasons, pregnant, breast-feeding women and children need to take resveratrol supplements with caution.