The quest for the elixir of life started in China in 221 B.C. through the efforts of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, best recognized as the builder of the Great Wall of China. In 1513, Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon came to Florida to look for the fountain of youth. Today, medical researchers and scientists are continuously seeking for a way to prolong life and slow down the aging process through genetic studies.
A major leap in anti-aging studies came about in 2004, when Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School discovered a compound that activates an anti-aging gene in the human body. This compound, called resveratrol, was found to have potent antioxidant properties that activate the sirtuin gene said to be responsible for prolonging life and delaying the aging process. Resveratrol is a plant extract derived from the skin of red grapes, cranberries, and blueberries. As resveratrol is found abundantly in red wine, this finding shed light on the controversy of the French Paradox. The French Paradox maintains that although the French and the Americans both consume high calorie diets, lower incidences of degenerative disease and obesity has been observed in the French as compared to Americans. The difference has been linked to the amount of red wine consumed by the French. The question of how much red wine is needed to produce its longevity effect remains to be discovered.
Following Dr. Sinclair’s breakthrough discovery, several studies in recent years linking resveratrol to longevity have produced promising results. Experiments on roundworms, fruit flies, fish, and mice showed resveratrol to effectively neutralize free radicals in animal models. Free radicals are molecules that attack and damage healthy cells, which weaken the immune system and ultimately accelerates the aging process. By eliminating free radicals, cells are able to regenerate and heal faster, which consequently slows down the rate of aging.
A recent study, however, established a clear link of how resveratrol affects the immune system in humans. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, revealed that resveratrol reduces the inflammatory response of the body that leads to various aging-related diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, type II diabetes, and stroke. Blood samples from human subjects who were given 40 mg of resveratrol supplements daily for six weeks revealed the effectiveness of resveratrol in preventing the proliferation of free radicals in the body. The study further established that resveratrol inhibits the inflammatory protein tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, and other compounds that contribute to blood vessel inflammation. These compounds interfere with insulin action, which increases the risk of developing diabetes in predisposed individuals. The researchers concluded that these findings are consistent with resveratrol’s ability to slow down the aging process.
The quest for the fountain of youth is clearly far from over. Nevertheless, with advancements in modern genetic science, the road to finding an antidote to aging is imminent. The discovery of resveratrol may very well be the key to a longer existence filled with vitality and excellent health.
News on Health Care has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NOHC.