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Resveratrol: Anti-Aging Miracle? | Medilogy
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Resveratrol: Anti-Aging Miracle?

From supermodels to surgeons, everyone has been searching for the fountain of youth… or at least some type of anti-aging treatment. The answer to this question could lie in a compound called resveratrol.

For years, researchers have been trying to understand how rats that eat a low calorie diet lived longer and showed a decrease in cancer and heart diseases. Through advancement in molecular biology, scientists have uncovered the gene that stimulates a survival mechanism which extends life. This gene, sirtuins, is present in almost all organisms ranging from yeast to humans and has been known to detect how quickly an organism ages. Sirtuins control aging by directing cells on how to protect themselves more efficiently; however, the gene is normally inactive. In order to activate the gene, Harvard scientists have been trying to stimulate sirtuins without genetically altering its composition.

One way to stimulate the sirtuins is through calorie restrictions or dieting. However, in order to find a compound that would do the same researchers conducted a random experiment by adding thousands of different chemicals to test tubes of yeast. To their surprise, they found a chemical that worked 10 times faster than all the other chemicals while increasing the lifetime of the yeast cells by 70% percent.  While randomly testing thousands of compounds, Sinclair, a biochemist at Harvard, found the answer: resveratrol. This same chemical, resveratrol, is found in red wines and peanuts. The effects of resveratrol might be evident in the French enigma which indicated that although French people had higher fat diet than Americans, they had an amazingly low rate of heart diseases. The answer might lie in their high consumption of red wine which contains resveratrol.

The idea of calorie restriction helping combat anti-aging is difficult to believe. However, in an experiment at the University of Wisconsin, a group of rhesus monkeys were on an extreme diet while the control group was well-fed for over two decades. The result was a clear difference between the skinny monkeys who looked younger, had shinier coats and barely suffered from arthritis, while the chunky moneys had diabetes, cancer and heart diseases. The research shows that hunger tends to stimulate the sirtuins, turning on the genetic survival switch.

Another common experiment has been tried on humans through the Calorie Restriction Society where a group of people have severely restricted their calories for years. Their diet consists of an appetizer, a low-calorie soup and an entrée composed of walnuts and baby food topped off on flour-free bread. The results were astonishing as the participants have significantly lowered their blood pressure, lessened the risk of acquiring heart disease, diabetes or cancer and reduced body fat. Also, with better health came sexier looks as a participant’s husband said, “”To be honest, if you saw her without any clothes, you’d see she looks pretty darn good, like a woman like of many, many years younger.”

However, the major concern in today’s world is about how to surviving on such a restricted diet. Let’s face it, most people would not be able to trade eating pizzas, burgers, pasta etc for soup, walnuts and baby food for the rest of their life. That is where the production of resveratrol pill comes in which could turn on the survival gene, sirtuins. If scientists are on the right track, then we could not only be able to live a longer, disease free life, but also look sexier, while not worrying about dieting and sweaty work outs.

“What we’re trying to do with our drugs here is to put the body in a defensive state to ring the alarm bells and get the body to defend itself instead of dieting to set the alarm off, pop a pill,” Sinclair said.

This pill is composed of high concentrations of resveratrol.  To be more exact, scientist report the pill give the user the equivalent of 1,000 bottles of red wine per day. Although the pill may not increase our lifespan, it could prevent many aging diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s as the gene, sirtuin, would be activated to protect the cells against diseases.

When tried on mice, resveratrol gave a positive feed back. When two mice were fed a high fat diet for over 10 weeks, one was able to run twice as far than the control and weighed far less.   Sinclair reported, “”Their organs looked pristine, youthful, fat-free, and their physiology was just like they were dieting. But they were fat.”

Confident that they were on the right track to a giant discovery, the resveratrol pill was placed into human trials on individuals with untreated diabetes. The pill essentially lowered both glucose and insulin levels, even though the patients had not altered their diet.

Very soon Sirtis, a company launched by Sinclair and his partner Westphal with other leading bio tech companies, will be able to make a more effective version of resveratrol which would go into human trials on cancer patients. However, we must remember that almost nine out of ten treatments that work on rats usually end up failing on human beings.

The drugs ultimate job is not only to help people live a longer life, but also to help individuals live a healthier life.   When asked the question that thousands are curious to know the answer to, “When will this pill go into mass production?” Sinclair replied, “I would say five years to be conservative, that this’ll happen within our lifetimes. I’m fairly certain about that.”

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