Ur Place

June 8, 2008

Red wine stops effects of high-fat diet

Filed under: Lifestyle — halfevil @ 5:31 am

People living in France have a much lower incidence of coronary heart disease than those in Britain, despite their similar intake of saturated fats – a phenomenon known as the “French paradox”.


Many have speculated that answer to the paradox lies in their love of a glass or two of wine with a meal and have focused on a chemical found in red wine called resveratrol, also a natural constituent of grapes, pomegranates and other foods.

Earlier studies have shown it can blunt the toxic effects of a diet very high in fat, which causes liver damage, but this is the first study to directly look at ageing.

Today, in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers report that even low doses of resveratrol in the diet of middle-aged mice has a widespread influence on the genetic levers of ageing, and may confer special protection on the heart.

Specifically, the researchers found that low doses of resveratrol mimic the helpful effects of what is known as caloric restriction, diets with the full range of nutrients but up to 30 per cent fewer calories than a typical diet, which extend lifespan and slow the progression of age related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cancer.

“This brings down the dose of resveratrol toward the consumption reality mode,” says senior author Prof Richard Weindruch of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But, importantly, resveratrol is just one of many “healthy chemicals”, called polyphenols in wine. Now, he says, it is possible to see how a glass or two can have a health effect.

“Resveratrol mimics a significant fraction of the profile of caloric restriction at the gene expression level,” according to Prof Tomas Prolla, coauthor

In the new study – which compared the gene use of animals on a restricted diet with those fed small doses of resveratrol – the similarities were remarkable, explains lead author Dr Jamie Barger of Madison-based LifeGen Technologies.

In the heart, for example, there are at least 1,029 genes whose functions change with age, and the organ’s function is known to diminish with age.

In animals on a restricted diet, 90 per cent of those heart genes experienced altered gene expression profiles while low doses of resveratrol thwarted age-related change in 92 per cent. The new findings were associated with prevention of the decline in heart function associated with ageing.

In short, a glass of wine or food or supplements that contain even small doses of resveratrol are likely to represent “a robust intervention in the retardation of cardiac ageing,” the authors note.

The new resveratrol study is also important because it confirms studies that show eating fewer calories, which has been shown in a wide range of species to extend lifespan, and resveratrol may govern the same master genetic pathways related to ageing.


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