Red wine is turning out to be a superfood that aids weight loss and breast cancer. It owes it magic to the entire synergistic grape polyphenol group of nutrients that are more highly available in wine than it is directly from grapes or from grape extracts. The grape polyphenol group speeds up fat burning and inhibits breast tumor growth and metastasis. Recent research is even showing that red wine slows the aging process.
Researchers at the University of Strasbourg in France studied the vascular reactivity of rats over a period of several weeks. They found that red wine polyphenols improved functioning in the cells that line blood and lymph vessels, and normalized oxidative stress and the expression of proteins involved in the aging process. Red wine polyphenols also improved aging-related dysfunction and decline in physical performance.
Combined polyphenols from red wine effective against breast cancer
Scientists at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine have reported that combined grape polyphenols in red wine, at levels that would normally be consumed, provide much more potent healing power than do isolated compounds from grapes (resveratrol, quercetin, or catechin) given at much higher doses. Combined polyphenols are more effective at inhibiting estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, primary breast tumor growth, and cell migration leading to metastasis. When tested against primary tumor growth in mice, a statistically significant decrease in tumor area resulted. Image analysis of distant organs for metastases showed the polyphenols reduced metastasis, especially to liver and bone.
Antioxidants from wine or food are best
Polyphenols are the active compounds found in the flavonoids of plants that give them healing properties. They also give plants their color and provide antioxidants. The high polyphenol content of red and purple grapes is reflected in their deep, intense colors. White grapes are low in polyphenol content. More than 200 polyphenols have been identified in red wine, with resveratrol, quercetin, and catechin being the most notable.
The power of polyphenols to protect and heal is not surprising considering that polyphenols are the soldiers that stand guard to defend plants from ultraviolent radiation, pests and injury. They also stand as sentinels against infection from bacteria, viruses, and funguses.
Why not get polyphenols from capsules? The antioxidant power of extracts is poor compared to the antioxidant power of polyphenols obtained from consuming natural fruits, vegetables and wine. According to Dr. Erik Skovenborg, co-founder of the Scandinavian Medical Alcohol Board, extracted polyphenols are not easily protected from oxidation. He recommends getting an ample supply of antioxidants from food sources to arm the cells of the body with heavy antioxidant artillery to face any threat.
Polyphenols in red wine keep livers safe from alcohol damage
The accumulation of fat in the liver is a chronic condition commonly associated with drinking alcohol, especially in excess. But scientists involved in recent research say resveratrol, a member the polyphenol complex found in red wine, shows promise for preventing and treating human alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Good news for the overweight
The liver is where fat burning in the body takes place. Research from the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida found that resveratrol reduces the amount of fat produced in the livers of mice chronically fed high levels of alcohol. It also increases the rate that existing liver fat is broken down. Perhaps their most interesting finding was that the combination of alcohol and resveratrol had a greater impact than resveratrol alone.
The research team created six separate groups of six to eight week old mice. Each group was fed a liquid diet. Half the groups received no alcohol, while the other half received doses of alcohol which were gradually increased to simulate the affects of sinking into alcoholism. This went on until 29 percent of the groups’ daily calories came from alcohol. Four of the six groups (two groups receiving alcohol and two that did not) received resveratrol supplements. Four weeks later, their livers were examined.
The researchers found that mice receiving alcohol but no resveratrol had three times the level of liver fat as did the other groups. They determined that resveratrol performed several activities that aided in fat metabolism. One of these was the activation of sirtuin, an enzyme that helps prevent cell oxidation. Mice receiving alcohol along with resveratrol had five times more sirtuin in their livers than did the alcohol only mice. Mice given resveratrol but no alcohol had between three and four times more sirtuin than the group that had only alcohol.
These results suggest that resveratrol from red wine was able to induce fat buring in the liver at a higher level than when administered alone.
This ability of resveratrol to inhibit the development of fat cells gives red wine star power as a weight loss aid. When optimal fat buring in the liver is taking place, losing weight is easy, and weight tends to stay stable at desired levels. Other laboratory experiments have shown that resveratrol prevents the maturing of fat cells and hinders fat storage in mature cells. It also reduces production of certain cytokines, substances linked to the development of obesity related disorders like diabetes and atherosclerosis. Resveratrol stimulates the formation of adiponectin, a protein known to decrease risk of heart attack. Production of this protein is diminished by obesity.
Red wine has stood the test of time
Red wine has been promoted by some of the most amazing people throughout history. Plato (428-348 BC) said, “Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the Gods to man.” Hippocrates (459-377 AD) favored the application of wine as a tranquilizer, analgesic and diuretic. The Medieval physician and scholar Paraclesus reported the beneficial effects of wine on health in his book Concerning the Generation, Growth, Preservation, Life, Death, Resuscitation and Transmutation of Natural Things. Caesar recommended wine with meals in order to protect his soldiers from gastrointestinal infections and bleeding.
Is the French Paradox really so puzzling?
Red wine is prominently featured in the Mediterranean diet, a way of eating that relies on whole foods along with red wine. This diet has been shown to reduce mortality from all causes. Recent findings have shown that eating as the Mediterranean’s do lowers the chance for metabolic syndrome, stoke, cognitive impairment, and inflammation.
The term French paradox refers to the observation that although the French eat similar amounts of high fat foods, exercise less, and smoke more than Americans do, they appear to have a markedly lower mortality rate from heart disease. There studies and others suggest that one of the reasons the French have a lower rate of heart disease is their regular consumption of red wine.
How much red wine?
Much of this research was done with amounts of red wine polyphenols commonly consumed. People eating the Mediterranean diet typically consume a glass of red wine with meals or maybe even two, but not all meals are accompanied by red wine. This amount is consistent with guidelines from health gurus. Remember that as in all things, moderation is key.
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