Caloric Restriction Benefits May Come in a Pill

A simple compound found in red grapes and red wine has been discovered to reproduce the healthy-aging effect of caloric restriction in mice. Receiving regular doses of resveratrol produced a significantly healthier aging process for the mice, leaving them with strong hearts, clear eyes, flexible muscles, and strong bones well into old age, even if they only began to start taking the chemical in middle age.

Caloric restriction has been found to be effective in producing a disease free aging process. However, in humans it is impractical and perhaps dangerous. However, taking a resveratrol pill is not. In fact, the compound has been found to have no noticeable side effects.

Co-author and Harvard University biologist, David Sinclair, claims that this is the first time we have been able to mimic caloric restriction in healthy animals. This has been a goal of the field for decades. No prior research has led scientists to believe it was possible to allow an animal to eat whatever it wants and still receive the benefits. There is now evidence of this scenario.

Both resveratrol and caloric restriction trigger the SIRT1 enzyme and other sirtuins, which are enzymes that function to ensure cells are working optimally and mitochondria are revitalized. Mitochondria are cell organelles responsible for producing energy from glucose. The study was performed on both obese and normal mice that were fed a standard low- and high-calorie diet. The result was that the mice treated with resveratrol, regardless of how much food they ate, fared much better than other mice.

At two years of age, the human equivalent of 70 or 80 years, the health of the mice’s bones, hearts, nerves, brains and eyes were far superior to those of untreated mice. The resveratrol mice also had much healthier mitochondria. Some researchers believe that mitochondrial degeneration is the common root to all age-related diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and dementia.

Nat Lebowitz, a cardiologist with the Advanced Cardiology Institute, says that in animals, resveratrol has been shown to produce a pre-conditioning effect for the heart. In normal conditions, a protective enzyme known as heme-oxygenase is rapidly produced following a heart attack to limit damage to heart muscle tissue caused by the release of iron. In animal studies, resveratrol has been found to trigger production of this enzyme prior to a heart attack and therefore limit damage caused by event.

Resveratrol is rapidly becoming a household word as it is now widely extolled as a potential longevity molecule. Resveratrol and other tiny molecules found in red win can enter living cells and influence genetic processes. One widely studied gene pathway, activated by resveratrol, is the sirtuin1 gene, also known as a survival gene. The current idea is to develop pills that will mimic the effects of a calorie-restricted diet, which is known to double the lifespan of all living organisms.


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