Compound in red wine shown to mimic benefits of exercise
A compound found in red wine is being touted as "exercise in a bottle" in a new study that looks at the role it plays in animals.
The study, published June 30 in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, claims that the star ingredient in wine, resveratrol, could slow the negative consequences of a sedentary lifestyle like insulin resistance and loss of bone mineral density.
The new findings seem to confirm the longstanding French paradox: despite a diet high in rich foods like cheese and cream, the French enjoy a low death rate from heart disease.
The researchers were interested in the effects of long-term spaceflight on astronauts, when a zero gravity environment makes it nearly impossible to get adequate exercise. To simulate weightlessness and a sedentary lifestyle in animals, researchers bound their hind legs and tail and fed the rats resveratrol daily.
While the control group showed a decrease in muscle mass and strength, developed insulin resistance and a loss of bone mineral density, the group that received a dose of resveratrol showed none of the complications, the study said.
"There are overwhelming data showing that the human body needs physical activity, but for some of us, getting that activity isn't easy," said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of the journal.
"A low gravity environment makes it nearly impossible for astronauts. For the earthbound, barriers to physical activity are equally challenging, whether they be disease, injury, or a desk job. Resveratrol may not be a substitute for exercise, but it could slow deterioration until someone can get moving again."
Meanwhile, in another lab study out of Germany, researchers found that the same compound, resveratrol, inhibited pre-fat cells in humans from increasing and converting into mature fat cells. It also hindered the storage of fat.
They also found that resveratrol reduced the production of certain cytokines -- cell-signalling protein molecules -- that may be linked to the development of obesity-related disorders like diabetes and clogged coronary arteries.
One glass of red wine contains about 1 mg of resveratrol. Supplements contain 15 to 500 mg per capsule. Currently, there is no consensus on the safe and effective daily dosage of resveratrol. Supplements are to be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
The Mayo Clinic defines moderate drinking as two glasses of wine a day for men and one glass a day for women.
Simply eating red grapes with the skin on has been suggested as one way to get resveratrol without consuming alcohol. Other foods that contain resveratrol include peanuts, blueberries and cranberries.
Consult your doctor to determine if supplements are right for you.