There’s no shortage of medications, treatments, regimens – you name it – available to the general public under the pretext of preserving health and offering preventative care in regards to the onset of certain diseases. Some folks even find solace in the habitual glass of wine at dinnertime, standing by its austere taste and potent brew. Lucky for these fervent wine connoisseurs, there is some validity to their impassioned words, but it is not the wine itself that possesses such worthwhile characteristics; it is all thanks to one naturally occurring compound known as resveratrol.
When it comes to finding supplements that will positively impact your health, there’s a ton of beneficial chemicals to sift through and experiment with. Resveratrol happens to be a notably unique one that scientists have recently been diving into to gain a better understanding of its full scope of effects. Of the many biological activities research has linked resveratrol to are antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties to name a few.
Much more research regarding the full scope of resveratrol’s healing properties must be done in order to better understand the potential that resveratrol has in regards to human health. Positive attributes and side effects of resveratrol consumption must be considered to fully appreciate the compound.
This article will discuss the following:
- Various possible health benefits of resveratrol
- Known side effects caused by resveratrol consumption
- How to safely take resveratrol supplements
An Introduction to Resveratrol
The scientific community has been exploring the effects resveratrol has on human health ever since its presence was noted in red wine in the early 1990s. A naturally occurring compound that is found in some plants, resveratrol belongs to a group of plant chemicals known as stilbene polyphenols. Resveratrol and other stilbenes are produced by plants as a protective measure against stress, injury, and infections.
This self-protective quality is what truly gives resveratrol its healing capabilities. Acting as an antioxidant in the body, resveratrol is able to prevent potential health threats and neutralize compounds that damage the cells. Other beneficial properties of resveratrol include anti-inflammatory effects, cardiovascular and neurological protection, inhibition of cancerous cells, and increased longevity through the delay of certain degenerative diseases.
A lot of research is still being conducted on the effects of resveratrol and how it can offer advantages across multiple areas of our health. The data we currently have has been collected from laboratory and animal studies, so its true impact on humans is unknown. Multiple studies have produced promising results, but it’s impossible to know with any certainty how high concentrations of resveratrol will affect our bodies.
Where Can You Find Resveratrol?
Resveratrol can actually be found in a number of food sources. Grapes and red wine are by far the best food sources, and anyone with a glass of red wine in hand will vouch for its health-boosting effects. While it is unlikely a nightly glass of wine contains enough resveratrol to provide any legitimate therapeutic benefits, it doesn’t hurt to seek out resveratrol-containing food sources.
Aside from red wine and the skin of grapes, resveratrol is found in peanuts, pistachios, dark chocolate, and certain berries including blueberries, cranberries, and bilberries. These delicious options make adding resveratrol to your diet a piece of cake.
Resveratrol Health Benefits
While various laboratory studies have been conducted on the influence resveratrol has on a living organism’s health, a majority of the data collected has originated from nonhuman subjects or human cells. Due to the limited availability of data pertaining to resveratrol’s effects on humans, it is hard to say with any certainty what resveratrol may or may not be able to do in terms of promoting good health.
Despite all that we still do not yet know, there is promise indicated by these preliminary studies. Researchers have found evidence to suggest resveratrol possesses the ability to kill or inhibit growth of cancerous cells, can improve cardiovascular attributes, and even work to increase longevity in some animals.
Results appear to be mixed in regards to the impact of resveratrol on humans. While there’s still much more research to be done, let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits gathered from the results of studies.
If you’ve ever heard of the phenomenon known as the “French Paradox,” you likely have resveratrol to thank for it. This phrase refers to the baffling observation that coronary heart disease in France is relatively low, despite a high percentage of the population partaking in diets high in saturated fats and cigarette smoking.
Why does this happen? It is theorized that regular consumption of red wine plays a part by providing additional protection from cardiovascular disease. While the overall concentration of resveratrol in red wine is likely not potent enough to truly impact your health, the characteristics of resveratrol certainly show promising signs.
Data collected from lab and animal studies suggests that resveratrol may have a positive impact on cholesterol levels, protect blood vessels from damage, and prevent the formation of blood clots. Cholesterol levels are integral to the upkeep of your health, and abnormal cholesterol levels are a huge risk factor for coronary heart disease, a condition caused by the buildup of plaque inside of the arteries.
Resveratrol may have a positive impact on blood fats due to the way in which the compound interacts with cholesterol levels. A 2016 study performed on mice saw the level of HDL cholesterol, known as the “good” cholesterol, increase in the subjects while the average total level of cholesterol decreased. Diets rich in antioxidants naturally promote the production of HDL cholesterol and low levels of LDL.
Studies have shown resveratrol to inhibit the proliferation of various cancerous cells by decreasing the level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in the body, a naturally occurring hormone that has been linked to breast, prostate, lung, stomach, and colon cancers.
It is currently unknown whether resveratrol may be beneficial in the prevention or treatment of cancer in humans, and the low bioavailability of resveratrol limits clinical evaluation of potential systemic health effects. However, a pilot study found that resveratrol was well-tolerated and modestly reduced cell proliferation in cancer patients.
Caloric restriction is known to extend the lifespan of various species, including worms, fish, mice, and rats. Resveratrol is able to achieve a similar effect in the body when administered, which means you get all of the same benefits as you would when actually restricting your calorie intake.
Since antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds provide protection to the brain and slow cognitive decline, it only makes sense to surmise that resveratrol would be no exception. The findings of many studies indicate that drinking red wine can slow age-related cognitive decline and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
What Side Effects You Can Expect From Taking Resveratrol
At this time, there are no outstanding side effects to taking resveratrol that pose a major hazard to your health. To experience any side effects at all, an individual would likely have to take a very high dose of resveratrol – one that exceeds 2.5 grams.
While long term side effects are not yet known due to the contemporary nature of the research, it’s important to consider all of the data we currently have to gain a better perspective on how resveratrol can affect certain individuals. Just as there are possible health advantages to supplementing with resveratrol, negative side effects are also a potential consequence and should be fully considered before beginning supplementation.
Despite not being a common symptom, some resveratrol users have reported gastrointestinal side effects. Large doses of resveratrol may cause stomach pains, cramping, poor appetite, and diarrhea. Those who have a predisposition to digestive problems or experience stomach sensitivity may want to consider avoiding resveratrol if it makes things worse.
There is a risk that resveratrol will interact with the medications some people take. Medications like blood thinners, antidepressants, immunosuppressants, antihistamines, blood pressure drugs, antiviral, antifungal, and related supplements can all be affected by resveratrol.
Individuals with bleeding disorders who take anticoagulants like warfarin and heparin may have an adverse reaction to taking resveratrol due to its natural anticoagulant and blood pressure-lowering effects. Cancer treatment, blood pressure medications and, NSAIDS like aspirin and ibuprofen may be contraindicated by resveratrol.
Certain medications may build up to unsafe levels due to resveratrol due to its blockage of the enzyme that helps clear some compounds from the body.
It is advised that individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid taking resveratrol, as well as children. Consult with a healthcare provider to learn more about how resveratrol may affect you.
The anti-inflammatory quality of resveratrol is supposed to make the compound great for relieving pain brought about by inflammation because it has the ability to inhibit enzymes that cause inflammation on a cellular level, but it can have quite an undesirable side effect in some folks. Rather than offer relief for conditions like osteoarthritis, resveratrol use may cause further joint pain and tendinitis. Reports of pain appear to predominantly affect the Achilles tendon, though other areas can be affected as well; this pain is sometimes accompanied by numbness or a tingling sensation in the arms, hands, legs, and feet.
Numerous studies on cell cultures have shown resveratrol to have both estrogen agonist and estrogen antagonist effects. Estrogen agonists work to simulate the effects of endogenous estrogens, while antagonists of the estrogen hormone bind to receptor sites and block the hormone from taking effect.
Since resveratrol has a similar chemical structure to synthetic estrogen agonists, the possibility of the compound causing interference with the estrogen hormone is quite plausible. Tumors in prostate and breast cancers that are dependent on estrogen have many receptors for the hormone because they require it to grow.
Individuals who are at risk for tumor growth should refrain from taking resveratrol supplements until more is known regarding the estrogenic effects of resveratrol.
Are Resveratrol Supplements Right For You?
With so much still unknown regarding the effects of resveratrol on humans, you may feel yourself put off from giving the compound a try. That’s perfectly fine, and you should never feel like you have to try a supplement simply because it has exponentially increased in popularity within the supplement market.
However, uncertainties are almost always a guarantee when dealing with medicine. The current data we have certainly looks promising for resveratrol, so there’s a definite chance it could be a life-changing supplement. In fact, we’ve launched our very own resveratrol supplement to support healthy aging – be sure to check out the Dr. Emil Nutrition Resveratrol Plus supplements here.
If you would like to further consider if resveratrol is a good choice for you, consult your primary care doctor or another qualified healthcare provider and discuss possible options. Be sure to be open and honest about your medical history so they can make sure resveratrol is a safe solution.