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  • Once Crestfallen, Resveratrol Pill Users Now Buoyed By Reevaluation Of Longevity Science

    January 22, 2018: by Bill Sardi

    When scientific reports made front-page news headlines late in 2003 that the red wine molecule resveratrol, believed to be responsible for the French Paradox, triggered a survival gene that was known to be activated by a lifespan-doubling calorie restricted diet, hundreds of thousands of Americans began their own uncontrolled experiment to see if this was true.

    For reference, the French Paradox was first posited on the CBS Sixty Minutes television show in 1991 when Dr. Serge Renaud of France reported the wine-drinking French had far lower mortality rates even though they consumed higher fat and cholesterol diets than North Americans.   Dr. Renaud died in 2012 at the age of 85.  His television report caused a temporary worldwide shortage of red wine.

    Yes, it’s true!  You will live longer!

    Then on November 16, 2006 twenty-nine noted scientists in the field of human aging reported in Nature magazine that the red wine molecule resveratrol extended the lifespan of laboratory mice fed a high-calorie/high fat diet.  Resveratrol remarkably opposed 144 out of 153 gene pathways that promote aging.  With a third of the global human population considered to be obese, that news couldn’t have come at a better time.

    Resveratrol abolished the expected adverse effects of a 60% fat-calorie diet with the human equivalent of ~350 milligrams of this red wine molecule, an achievable dose in dietary supplements.  A 20% extension in lifespan was recorded.   Resveratrol even prevented liver enlargement, a common feature of high-fat diets.

    And even more remarkably, resveratrol increased the number of mitochondria in living cells as animals aged.  Mitochondria are the power plants of living cells.  Only about 4% of mitochondria are functional by age 80 in humans.  That mitochondria were not just maintained but actually increased in number suggests reversal of biological aging, not just slowing it down.

    Resveratrol pill users were ecstatic.   Just maybe they could cheat on their diet a bit and get away with it like the French.

    Resveratrol users are crestfallen

    But two years later, on August 8, 2008, the same group of researchers reported in the journal Cell Metabolism seemingly disappointing news.  When laboratory mice were fed a standard (25% fat calorie diet) resveratrol at two different doses (human equivalent of 360 and 1565 milligrams) it did markedly reduce measurable signs of aging, decreased inflammation, preserved bone density, reduced the incidence of cloudy cataracts and preserved motor nerve coordination with advancing age of the animals.  But, surprisingly, resveratrol-fed mice did not live any longer.  Resveratrol pill users were crestfallen.

    Oh, resveratrol pills were demonstrated to prolong the healthspan of these animals but failed in its critical test to live up to its promise as a longevity pill.

    Looking back in time

    In the 1970s the popular book entitled Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, which recommended a “low carbohydrate diet” was said to “rekindle public interest in ketogenic diets.”  Naysayers roundly criticized Dr. Atkins diet, in one instance suggesting such a diet had “circumvented the first law of thermodynamics, namely, that energy of an isolated system is constant and any exchange of energy between a system and its surroundings must occur with the creation or destruction of energy.”

    A 1973 report initially published in Nutrition Reviews and later re-published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, stated “no scientific evidence exists to suggest that the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet has a metabolic advantage over more conventional diets for weight reduction.”

    Critics also pointed to low-carbohydrate diets as being laden with fat and cholesterol that may raise the risk for coronary heart disease.  Physicians were counseled to steer their patients away from low-carb diets.

    Dr. Atkins wasn’t the first to call for low-carbohydrate diets.  In 1965 researchers suggested a “ketogenic diet would be the most ideal therapy for weight reduction.”  Such refusal to consider the facts would foster a generation of obese Americans.

    But then after 60 years of touting low-fat nutrition, Nina Teicholz broke through with her convincing 2014 book entitled THE BIG FAT SURPRISE.  She described the disastrous consequences of low-fat diets.  Teicholz advocated butter, meat and cheese being included in the diet.

    Teicholz exposed the food industry’s influence in drafting the infamous Food Pyramid that has now been abandoned.  By 2016 new dietary guidelines removed restrictions on total fat and set limited for added sugars.

    It was a misdirection of the worst kind.  High carbohydrate diets, once extolled by the highest authorities in the field of nutrition, are now revealed as being pro-inflammatory.  High carbohydrate diets don’t just result in metabolic and blood sugar problems, they kill.  It is now being called “death by carbohydrates.”

    What was overlooked: ketogenic diets reduce hunger

    Interest in ketogenic (high-fat) diets grew and grew.  What was thought to be impossible became explainable.  Kat James, a woman who by self-discovery transformed herself from an obese overeater to a lean bodied woman was the first to recognize such diets improved sensitivity to leptin, a hormone that controls appetite.  So much for the claim such diets violate the first law of thermodynamics.

    James explained this in her 2007 book entitled The Truth About Beauty, but her breakthrough discovery was so far ahead of the best doctors and nutritionists at the time they ignored it.  Now every Johnny-Come-Lately diet advisor talks about how they were the first to call attention to leptin.

    The leptin learning curve goes full circle

    There is much to learn about leptin, particularly how gut bacteria control the human body’s sensitivity to this satiation hormone.   Of acute interest, two red wine molecules, resveratrol and quercetin, have now been found to reduce obesity in laboratory animals by their ability to favorably alter the composition of gut bacteria.

    And finally we have come full circle — resveratrol improves leptin sensitivityResveratrol + quercetin reduce leptin resistance by activation of the Sirtuin1 gene, the same gene extolled as an anti-aging gene in studies published over a decade ago.

    Wrong conclusion

    Oh my, recall that study mentioned earlier in this report which said resveratrol prolonged the lives of laboratory rats fed a high-fat diet?  Let’s re-phrase that: laboratory mice lived longer on a high-fat ketogenic + resveratrol diet!

    And the succeeding study found higher-carbohydrate diets negated the effect of resveratrol.  Ah ha, that is why the fat/cholesterol-rich diets + red wine of France help them remain leaner and live longer!

    No, you didn’t take a wrong turn if you began taking resveratrol pills a dozen years ago.  It’s just science that came to the wrong conclusion.  As a fat-soluble nutrient resveratrol is better absorbed with fat.  Take with a dab of butter.

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