RESVERATROL AND THE FRENCH PARADOX
Resveratrol is showing immense promise as a benefit to your lifespan and healthspan, but its presence in red wine does not explain the French Paradox. It’s much simpler than that.
Have you ever asked yourself why many of life’s little pleasures turn out to be bad for your health? You’ve been told you shouldn’t smoke, consume alcohol to excess or munch through a large bag of crisps while languishing on the sofa watching your favourite soap. You begin to think that the big society is taking on all the traits of a boring killjoy. Well I have asked those questions, so when I heard that red wine is good for you because it contained something called resveratrol, I thought to myself, there is a god afterall , and he lives in France. I decided to investigate a little further.
I say he lives in France because of what has become known as the “French Paradox”. Apparently mortality from coronary heart disease is relatively low in France, even though they consume relatively high levels of saturated fat and smoke a lot of cigarettes. This has led scientists to speculate that the regular consumption of red wine might provide additional protection from cardiovascular disease.
I have not been able to find out why scientists concluded that, of all things French, red wine was the reason for their relative good health. It is already known that consumers of alcohol in moderation are also less likely to suffer from coronary disease, so why they thought there had to be other ingredients in red wine worth studying is hard to fathom.
The truth is that the health benefits of resveratrol should be considered separately to, rather than as part of, the benefits of consuming red wine. Resveratrol comes from grape-seeds and the skin of red grapes, but there is simply not enough resveratrol in a bottle of red wine to make a difference to your health. To put it in perspective, the average 1 litre bottle of red wine contains between 2 to 7mg of resveratrol, while a single Vitaday resveratrol capsule contains 60mg, and we recommend you take 2 to 4 daily!
I don’t suggest consuming 30 bottles of red wine a day as a viable source of resveratrol but you should consider healthy alternatives such as a bunch of red grapes, some peanuts, or blueberries and tailor your consumption of Vitaday’s resveratrol supplement to suit your diet.
My concern is that by dismissing the health benefits of resveratrol in red wine, there is a danger that the benefits of resveratrol itself may be dismissed. Resveratrol only came to the attention of the scientific community in 1992, so the research data is in the early stages, but results to date are immensely encouraging . Resveratrol has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and supports cardio-vascular health.
Resveratrol is also proven as an activator of SIRT1, one of 7 NAD dependent enzymes. Preclinical studies with SIRT1 activators demonstrate their potential importance in multiple disease areas, including Type 2 diabetes and related cardiovascular, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Supplementing with Vitday’s resveratrol could benefit the lifespan and healthspan of those that are overweight.
While the scientific studies to date are extremely promising, the hype has encouraged some in the wine industry to campaign to have red wine labelled a health product! What merriment we could all have if our local G.P. was writing prescriptions for Beaujolais Nouveau and we all headed to the off-licence rather than the pharmacy to pick up our “medicine”.
Over the next few weeks I intend to cover some of the results of the resveratrol studies in further articles, but back to the French Paradox. My explanation for the French Paradox is the French themselves. Here are my four good reasons why the French don’t suffer coronary disease to the same extent as the rest of us:
i) They don’t worry, and they have perfected the Gallic shrug to prove it;
ii) They love food, and treat lunchtime with the importance and respect it deserves;
iii) They kiss a lot, and French kissing is good for anyone’s heart.
iv) They speak a seductive language with an accent that will keep the blood racing through the veins of even the dullest economist or financial actuary!
The French have a phrase for it, which has entered the English language and is defined in the Oxford English dictionary as “exuberant joy of life”. The French call it “Joie de vivre” . I say it is the reason for the French Paradox, and I don’t believe any scientific study is going to convince me otherwise.
BON JOUR MON AMI!