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Drink wine and live long

By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

Could red wine be the fountain of youth that Ponce de Leon was after? Imagine if every city had a fountain in the central courtyard from which flowed organic red wine? Just dip in your glass and live forever.

Not forever, perhaps, but scientists are discovering the health benefits of red wine. (A few weeks ago I talked about the health benefits of raw cacao chocolate and today about red wine. How indulgent shall we get?) According to a Dr. Mark Houston on a recent CBS 60 Minutes segment, scientists have discovered a class of enzymes called sirtuins which are universal regulators of aging in virtually all living organisms and work as guardians of the cell.

Just some of the roles that sirtuins play include gene silencing, DNA repair, increased lifespan, increased cell survival, increases in energy metabolism, and positive response to stress. As you can imagine, scientists are working furiously to produce a drug to enhance sirtuin function but that may be unnecessary because one of the best compounds to naturally increase sirtuin activity is found in red wine: resveratrol.

Yeast treated with resveratrol survived 60 percent longer. Resveratrol is shown to extend the lifespan of worms and flies by nearly 30 percent and fish by almost 60 percent. An animal study showed a 31 percent increase in lifespan just using resveratrol.

What about humans? Resveratrol reduces LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, inhibits arterial plaque, prevents blood clots, normalizes blood pressure, and helps regulate blood sugar. It increased the body’s antioxidant pool, specifically glutathione. Resveratrol inhibits viral, fungal and bacterial growth, is anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and helps prevent bone loss.

One liter of high quality pinot noir wine has about 5 mg of resveratrol. We don’t know what dosage is optimal for humans but the animal studies were done using a dose of 22 mg per kilogram. Just add a zero to our weight to provide an estimate of how much resveratrol we need per day.

Big problem!!! A 160 pound person would need about 1,600 mg of resveratrol per day, which equates to about 300 bottles of wine per day. Drink even a fraction of that amount and your liver will complain. You will have to use capsules. Just make sure that the encapsulated form of resveratrol is the trans- form, not the cis-form.

Carol Simontacchi is a certified lifestyle educator at the offices of Dr. Alan Gruning in Fort Myers. She owns the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel. She can be reached at 472-4499.