Thursday, July 22, 2010
Resveratrol: pop the cork, not the pills!
In recent years, there has been a torrent of media hype that an antioxidant ingredient in red wine identified as resveratrol is loaded with medical miracles. Initial research indicates that large doses can apparently increase your life span. That benefit, however, will accrue to you only if you are fortunate enough to be a fruit fly, a fish or perhaps even a roundworm. Other experiments imply that resveratrol can inhibit weight gain, delay the aging process and provide you with higher levels of mental and physical energy. Rejoice, but only if you’re a close relative of Mickey Mouse, for it is with rodents that these latest results have been recorded.
In the 1990’s, the 60 Minutes television program on the French Paradox reported that red wine was the key to the better cardiovascular health of the French. Sales of red wine in America, particularly Merlot, increased immediately. With continuing publicity (including another 60 Minutes special in 2009) identifying red wine’s miracle component as resveratrol, one would have expected another surge in red wine sales. Not this time. Instead, resveratrol in pill form is what’s “flying off the shelves.” Because of the above and other research studies, resveratrol supplements are being touted as the next daily dose that will fight cancer, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, just to mention a few of the medical issues that many of us may face someday.
Nevertheless, research studies on humans need decades to yield results on which anyone can make reliable assertions about reservatrol’s long-term health effects. In the meantime, some Internet sites report the following as some of the negative side effects: Insomnia, joint and tendonitis pain, stomach cramping/diarrhea, stomach pain, flu, and an increase in blood pressure. Causation or correlation? Who knows? But either way, there is no question that America’s “quick fix” penchant via pills and supplements is being exploited. As one article succinctly stated, “The marketing frenzy surrounding resveratrol is a prime example of how science can be distorted when it is mingled with hope, amplified for buzz and spun for profit.”
Notwithstanding the “low calorie, non-alcoholic” marketing propaganda and other seductive assertions of the supplement sellers, this wine enthusiast is staying the course. I’m poppin’ the cork, not the pill. And as a final word, given the verities of resveratrol, doesn’t it seem that a nightly glass of reasonable quality red wine, would be far more life enhancing—especially in the dinner company of family and friends—than ingesting large daily doses of soulless supplements? I mean, really, wouldn’t it?