Resveratrol - A Powerful Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory And Anticancer Agent
Resveratrol is a powerful and effective antioxidant found in red grape skins, pomegranate, raw cacao, peanuts, raspberries and mulberries that is known to have a number of beneficial health effects. It is originally made by plants to increase their survival and resistance to disease during times of stress - such as exposure to excessive ultraviolet light, infections and climate changes. When you consume these plants, you can benefit from similar protection. Resveratrol's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties are well known. In fact recent research shows that its benefits may extend to the prevention and treatment of cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
Chemically resveratrol belongs to a family of compounds known as polyphenols, which are known to combat damaging free radicals - which is why life extension is also on its list of health benefits. Resveratrol is found in abundance in red wine and is highly soluble in alcohol, which means the body absorbs more of it from red wine than from other sources. Whole foods such as muscadine grapes have the highest concentration of resveratrol because of their extra thick skins and numerous seeds where it is concentrated. Other whole food sources that contain resveratrol include cocoa, dark chocolate and peanuts.
Extensive research has shown that resveratrol has the ability to deeply penetrate the center of a cell's nucleus, allowing the DNA to repair free radical damage that might otherwise contribute to cancerous growth. Further, resveratrol also helps cut down cell reproduction, which reduces the number of cell divisions that contribute to progression of cancer cell growth. In particular, its ability to render cancerous tumors more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiotherapy makes resveratrol a unique and potentially useful addition to conventional cancer therapy. Many tumors develop resistance to chemotherapy over time, known as chemoresistance. Researchers are always on the lookout for effective "chemo-sensitizers" that can help to overcome such resistance, and resveratrol has been shown to do just that. So far, cancers shown to respond favorably to resveratrol supplementation include lung carcinoma, acute myeloid and promyelocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer among others. In another study published that same year, resveratrol was also found to alleviate many of the severe side effects associated with conventional cancer treatments including cachexia, anorexia, fatigue, depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. According to the authors, all the evidence indicates that these symptoms are because of dysregulation of inflammatory pathways - which may explain resveratrol's efficacy in reversing them.
In addition to its anti-cancer properties, resveratrol has been shown to reverse oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, normalize lipids, protect the heart, stabilize insulin levels and much more. Resveratrol also acts as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial, anti-infective, antioxidant, cardioprotective and neuroprotective agent. Its ability to quench inflammation makes it useful not just against cancer, but also for other inflammation-related diseases such as appendicitis, peritonitis and systemic sepsis.
Unlike other antioxidants, resveratrol can cross the so-called blood-brain barrier, which allows it to moderate inflammation in the central nervous system including the brain as well. This is significant because such inflammation may play an important, perhaps even triggering role in many neurodegenerative diseases. For example in a 2010 study, resveratrol was found to suppress inflammatory effects in certain brain cells by suppressing production of natural proinflammatory chemicals and other key signaling molecules. Resveratrol has also been shown to help clear out the plaque in the brain that leads to Alzheimer's disease. More recently, resveratrol was also found to improve cerebral blood flow to the brain, which has obvious positive implications for vascular dementia as well as stroke.
At least two dozen clinical trials are currently underway to assess resveratrol's effects on human health and longevity, including a highly potent synthetic resveratrol that is being tested on cancer patients. The best way to get resveratrol is from eating grapes, cocoa, dark chocolate and peanuts as already stated. In order to get any kind of therapeutic dose, however, a resveratrol supplement made from a whole food complex that includes muscadine grape skin and seeds, would be ideal. Make sure whichever supplement for heart health you choose is made with all-natural, high-quality ingredients.
Since grapes are particularly high in fructose, if you are one of the 80% of the US population that suffers from insulin resistance and suffer from overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, then you might want to avoid eating too many grapes. Instead consider getting your insulin resistance under control before turning to grapes as a source of natural resveratrol so that it works in conjunction with your now normalized insulin resistance. As a general rule, the best approach to antioxidants is to consume a wide variety of them, not large amounts of just one. They work together synergistically, all performing different roles in your body. So while resveratrol can be a powerful addition to your diet, you need a solid nutritional foundation to get all the antioxidants your body needs to stay healthy and disease-free.
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