oxidative stress

  1. Resveratrol benefits… could it be the “fountain of youth”?

    I'm a research junkie. I'll admit it. So I just about jumped out of my seat when I read that someone had finally tested resveratrol--the antioxidant superstar found in red wine and grapes--on actual human beings!

    Yes, nutritionists have known about the resveratrol benefits for decades. It helps tame inflammation and prevent oxidative stress. This is significant because unchecked inflammation and oxidative stress can lead to heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. Even the mainstream press picked up on resveratrol a few years back when scientists proved it could extend the lifespan of mice by 20 percent! They dubbed it the "fountain of youth."

    But until last month, there was one giant problem with this antioxidant phenom: Zero clinical proof actually existed that it works on humans. (And I mean, ZERO.) There was plenty of data showing that it can increase the lifespan of roundworms, fruit flies, mice, and yeast. But nothing on humans...until last month. Will the resveratol benefits work on humans? You may be wondering, why all the fuss? If resveratrol is found in red wine...doesn't everyone know that drinking a glass of red wine is good for your health?

    And yes, that's true. But this study digs much deeper. In fact, it's the first- ever study showing why resveratrol may be a legit "fountain of youth" for humans after all. Specifically, scientists from the University of Buffalo wanted to see if resveratrol could decrease inflammation and oxidative stress in healthy men and women.

    So the scientists recruited 20 healthy men and women and took samples of their blood. Then, they split the participants into two groups. One group received 40 mg of resveratrol each day for six weeks. And the other group received a placebo.

    And here's what they found...

    Anti-aging extract scores off the charts!

    Resveratrol performed just as we all had hoped.

    First off, it blocked the formation of free radicals (reactive oxygen species or ROS). These harmful, unstable molecules cause damage to healthy cells. Over time, widespread free radical damage can harm your DNA and lead to a disease like cancer. But the participants who took resveratrol for six weeks significantly lowered their ROS levels.

    Secondly, the resveratrol group also lowered their TNF levels. TNF (or tumor necrosis factor) is a harmful protein that creates inflammation throughout the body. A few weeks ago, we talked about this harmful protein and the role it plays in rheumatoid arthritis.

    But TNF doesn't just harm rheumatoid arthritis patients. It causes widespread inflammation that can affect your blood vessels, your organs, your skin, and even your brain. It also messes with your body's insulin production. In fact, endocrinologists believe that lowering TNF levels will improve insulin resistance in diabetics.

    Small study, big impact

    Now, unfortunately this study is terribly small in scope with just 20 participants. Nevertheless, I think that it will have a big impact in the years to come. First off, it proves that resveratrol benefits can help control inflammation in humans.

    And that's huge! Inflammation is the underlying, biological cause of so many different uncured diseases -- from rheumatoid arthritis to Alzheimer's disease.

    Plus, it just builds more momentum for this superstar antioxidant. It will be interesting to see if one day scientists prove that resveratrol can extend your lifespan, as they proved with mice a few years back.

    So if you're not already taking something with resveratrol, now's definitely the time start! (Especially if you're over 50 or have an inflammatory disease.)

    And yes, you'll find resveratrol benefits in red wine and grapes. But you'd have to drink gallons of wine (or eat bushels of grapes) to get 100 mg of resveratrol. That's the amount you'll find in any quality resveratrol supplement. Most of these are derived from the Japanese knotweed herb.

    So take action now to keep feeling and looking young.

  2. Will drinking white wine help shrink your pant size?

    By now, most of us have heard about the cardiovascular benefits of drinking red wine. But white wines—like Chardonnay—have always taken a backseat to their healthier counterparts. Until now, that is.

    Actually, drinking a glass of Chardonnay isn’t going to do much for your overall health. But eating the seeds from the Chardonnay grape just might.

    Let me explain…

    Chardonnay grape seeds contain powerful polyphenols. These substances basically patrol your body, zapping any free radicals they find. Free radicals are harmful molecules that can cause disease, especially cancer, in the body. (In January 15, 2009’s Guide to Good Health, we discussed how grape seed extract can zap 76 percent of leukemia cells literally overnight. To read that article, simply visit this link: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/article_list.php?docs_id=91.)

    Naturally boost your metabolism

    Turns out the polyphenols in Chardonnay grape seeds may also help the body regulate its metabolism, even prevent obesity.

    In recent lab testing, scientists at the University of Montpellier wanted to see if grape seed extract could prevent weight gain in hamsters. Test subjects were divided into three groups:

    1. Subjects fed a normal diet
    2. Subjects fed a high-fat diet
    3. Subjects fed a high-fat diet but supplemented with the grape seed extract

    Not surprisingly, after 12 weeks the test subjects fed a normal diet maintained a healthy weight. Subjects on the high-fat diet gained abdominal fat. These hamsters also experienced spikes in blood sugar, triglycerides, insulin and insulin resistance.

    And what about the grape seed group? Could they keep off the fat?

    The grape seed group did keep off the fat! Despite receiving a high-fat diet, they did not increase their abdominal fat.

    So, how did they eat more fat without gaining, you ask?

    It appears that Chardonnay grape seeds somehow “turned off” the body’s “switch” to retain fat. In fact, the high-fat/grape seed hamsters had 61 percent more adiponectin in their blood than their high-fat alone counterparts. Adiponectin is inversely related to body fat. The more adiponectin your body produces, the less fat you collect.

    Plus, the news just kept getting better for the grape seed group. They experienced improvements in several key markers of good health.

    Insulinemia (abnormally high insulin in the blood) decreased by 16.5 percent in the high-fat/grape seed group. Leptinemia (a marker for diabetes) decreased by 45 percent. The researchers also noted lowered glycemia and insulin resistance values among the high-fat/grape seed group.

    Lastly, the high-fat/grape seed group experienced significant drops in two measures of oxidative stress. (Oxidative stress contributes directly to the formation of free radicals in the body.)

    But as an antioxidant, the grape seed extract seems to counteract oxidative stress in the test subjects. Production of NAD(P)H dropped by 30 percent and superoxide anion dropped by a whopping 74 percent.

    This is good news, as unchecked oxidative stress has been linked to everything from premature aging to cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.

    Stay the course

    Now—I’m not saying that this study gives you carte blanche to eat a high fat-diet. From my point of view, it’s just another tool to put into your toolbox if you’re concerned about maintaining a healthy weight.

    And remember—so far it’s only been shown to work on hamsters. Scientists have a long way to go before proving this stuff works on you and me. But if you want to give it a try (under the care of a naturopath, of course), I would recommend taking 200 mg per day. It’s pretty easy (and cheap) to find.

    If you want to shrink your pant size, give some grape seed extract a try. Not only is it a great antioxidant, it just may help you lose a pound or two.

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