05 June 2008

A simple and pleasant way to prolong youth

El vino, el nuevo elixir de la juventudIsabel F. Lantigua, El Mundo, 04/06/2008 

Translation: Inopressa 
Wine is the new elixir of youthThis substance is called resveratrol, and although the name of this antioxidant is not so easy to pronounce, it is now on everyone's lips due to its ability to slow down aging.

The scientists of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) were the last to study its rejuvenating effect. When working with rats, they noticed that small doses of this substance protect the heart from age-related disorders.

"How is it that the French, whose diet is rich in fats, have a healthy heart and are much less likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases than Americans?" – scientists asked a question. The answer was found in red wine. The French, like the Spaniards, usually drink a glass of wine while eating, and it is this drink containing resveratrol that protects the body from some of the harmful effects of aging, writes the publication PLoS One. (For readers who find the newspaper article too popular, we recommend the full text of the article by Jamie L. Barger et al. A Low Dose of Dietary Resveratrol Partially Mimics Caloric Restriction and Retards Aging Parameters in Mice – VM).

The authors studied the effects of resveratrol on middle-aged rats. Some of them were fed normal food; others – low-calorie, with a calorie content about 20-30% lower than that of normal food, which in previous studies proved to be an effective means of preventing the harm caused by aging; and the third was given an additive with small doses of resveratrol, which is contained in grapes and its derivatives, in particular, in wine.

Since the behavior of genes changes as we age, the researchers focused on studying genetic profiles to assess the effects of resveratrol. They paid special attention to the changes taking place in the heart, muscles and brain.

So, they noticed that there are at least 1029 genes in the heart that change over time and worsen the work of the heart. If a low-calorie diet reduces these changes by 90% and prevents aging of the heart, then resveratrol not only keeps up with it, but also takes a step forward, helping to avoid 92% of the changes. In rats with a normal diet, none of these effects were observed.

Of great importance for healthcare

"Our work demonstrates that the inclusion of a glass of wine or a supplement containing resveratrol in the diet after middle age is as effective for preventing the effects of aging as a diet with calorie and fat restriction," the researchers note.

Given that many diseases of the elderly are associated with the aging process, "this finding may be of great importance for public health, as it will reduce the incidence of certain cardiovascular diseases and improve the quality of life of people," the scientists add.

The effect of resveratrol on muscle tissue and the brain is not as striking as in the case of the heart, but it also helps to keep them in better shape. In the case of muscle tissues, both the antioxidants contained in wine and a low-calorie diet reduce by 26% the genetic changes that contribute to aging, whereas in the case of the brain, the positive effects are 13% and 19%, respectively. Unlike a low-calorie diet, resveratrol does not lead to weight loss.

Previous studies have noted that high doses of resveratrol can prolong life expectancy and reduce premature mortality in some invertebrates. However, "we saw that the positive effect of this substance, even in small doses, is much stronger than we thought," notes Thomas Prolla, professor of genetics and one of the authors of the study.

Scientists are calling for more clinical trials to confirm the importance of these discoveries. "Aging–related heart diseases are one of the most common causes of death in older people, so this discovery could bring us a little closer to improving their quality of life," the study authors conclude.

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