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A Health, Nutrition, and Alternative Medicine Blog

Friday, February 6, 2009

Can drinking red wine extend your life?

Can drinking red wine extend your life? That is what researchers are trying to prove, but results are not yet pointing in their favor. A recent study on mice was conducted by the National Institute on Aging and though their study showed many positive health results, it did not prove that drinking red wine could extend your life.

You may or may not be aware of the compound found in red wine that is being studied, resveratrol. Resveratrol is an antibiotic produced by plants when they are under attack by germs. Although resveratrol is found in many plants, the highest content is found in the red wine, grapes and peanuts. This highly studied compound has been found to have anti-flammatory, blood-sugar-lowering, anti-cancer properties in rat and mouse studies. In some species of animal, mostly short-lived species, it has also been proven to extend the life span. Armed with this information, researchers are working diligently to find out if the compound can have the same effects on humans.

What the recent researchers did find was that resveratrol had some effects of calorie restriction, prevented decline in aging and obesity related cardiovascular function, reduced cholesterol and improved inflammation in the heart. They also found a plethora of other positive effects, such as better bone health, reduced cataract formation and enhanced motor coordination in the studied mice. All good news!

Even though drinking red wine might not extend your life per say, the health benefits seem to be clear: some red wine is better than no red wine. Just look at the French!

Resveratrol is also sold in supplement form and has been chemically synthesized. If you don’t drink red wine, you may still reap its benefits through supplements or eating grapes and peanuts.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Red Wine is once again proven to be healthy. Drink up!

Red Wine is getting quite a bit of attention these days. Researchers are studying it thoroughly due to its high amounts of reservatrol, a compound found to be extremely healthy for cardiovascular health in mice. Recently a team from Harvard Medical School who paired up with the National Institute on Aging found that it not only provides heart benefits, but that resveratrol is also helpful in thwarting eye cataracts, improving balance and coordination and facilitating stronger bones.

Grab your favorite bottle of red and celebrate! (note: drinking too much red wine will have the opposite effect on balance and coordination).

The researchers used one year old mice for their experiment, the equivalent to a 35 year old human. They fed the mice varying diets, low-calorie and high-calorie, along with varying degrees of resveratrol measurements and found nothing but positive results. In fact, they found that the mice with high-calorie diets benefitted the most. The high calorie diet mice were not obese as they should have been and were found to live longer.

The mice that ate low-calorie and low resveratrol diets were just as healthy as those who ate high-calorie and high resveratrol diets.

So, the more calories you consume the more red wine you’ll need to drink. What a prescription for health!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dark Chocolate for Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is a serious disease most commonly caused by alcoholism. When a person is continually drinking alcohol, it can inhibit two very important proteins – AMPK and SIRT1 – from doing their very important job of breaking down fats in the liver. The result of these proteins being inhibited can turn to alcoholic fatty liver disease. Alcoholic fatty liver disease can cause other diseases such as fibrosis and cirrhosis, and can even result in a liver transplant or death.

Fortunately, a new study has found that an antioxidant called resveratrol can help reverse and prevent the disease by stimulating AMPK and SIRT1 and clearing fat from the liver. In fact, reserveratrol may not only treat already established build-up, but may also be helpful for preventing the build-up of fats in the liver before they are dangerously affecting drinkers.

In the study researchers fed mice a healthy, low-fat diet and also fed some mice alcohol, some resveratrol, and some a combination of alcohol and resveratrol. The study found that when mice were given resveratrol they had less fat produced in the liver and stimulated AMPK and SIRT1 proteins. Resveratrol also stimulated a reduction in other liver proteins involved in fat build up and increased adiponectin, a hormone responsible for metabolizing fat.

This could be a landmark study, suggesting that humans could possibly reduce their chances of alcoholic fatty liver disease by eating foods that are high in the antioxidant. Peanuts, grapes, red wine and now, dark chocolate, baking chocolate, and cocoa are known to contain high amounts of resveratrol.

Perhaps all those bartenders who serve bowls of peanuts have a sixth sense that peanuts are healthy for their clientele, but probably not. Maybe bars should add grapes and dark chocolate to their bar snack-food.

Even though red wine has a high amount of resveratrol, it is still alcohol, so the results of drinking red wine to break down fats in the liver is unknown. Although, since red wine has the highest amount of resveratrol known (with dark chocolate coming in a close second) it is undoubtedly better for you than other alcohols.

While foods with resveratrol are possibly helpful for preventing and reducing alcoholic fatty liver disease, the most important finding in this study is that resveratrol is a potential, capable treatment for treating and preventing the disease. In the meantime, if you’re going to drink, grab some grapes and don’t forget to happily eat your dark chocolate!

A glass of red wine with some dark chocolate isn’t as bad as once thought.

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