|Advanced Health & Life Extension||
The Health Benefits of Red Wine & Resveratrol
There has been a lot of interest in the media about the health benefits of red wine. It isn't the alcohol in the wine that provides a health benefit but the anti-oxidants, the red wine polyphenols, anthrocyanidins and resveratrol.
Resveratrol, in particular, has been demonstrated to be a potent anti-oxidant (about 20-50 times as effectively as vitamin C alone) and act synergistically with vitamin C enhancing the effects of each. Resveratrol has been demonstrated to have an anti-clotting effect that prevents the formation of thrombi or blood clots in the blood vessels. The formation of thrombi that block small blood vessels is believed to be a cause of heart attacks and strokes. Resveratrol has been demonstrated to have anti-cancer effects as well.
The incidence of heart disease and cancer among populations who consume a lot of red wine is dramatically less than those that don't even though they may also have a high fat diet. Resveratrol has also been demonstrated to promote the formation of new dendrites in the brain. Resveratrol and the other bioflavonoids and polyphenols are present in large amounts in the leaves, twigs and bark of the grape vines. Thus, red wine, which is fermented with the skins, seeds, twigs, etc. tends to contain much larger quantities of the beneficial substances than white wine which is fermented only from the pressed juice of the grape.
What About the Alcohol?
I recently had a long discussion with a nutrition expert who is also a wine lover (his family owns one of the large wineries in California) about the health benefits of red wine and the effects of the alcohol in it. After careful consideration, he admitted that there is no documentation or research supporting the idea that alcohol has health benefits. Alcohol, it seems is toxic to the human body and possesses no redeeming merits from a health perspective. When alcohol is consumed, the alcohol level in the blood increases and produces the intoxication effect. The body then begins "detoxifying" or metabolizing the alcohol. The first step is the conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. This happens fairly quickly in individuals who regularly consume alcohol. The second step is the conversion of acetaldehyde into acetate by the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase. This process is a bit slower and leaves a quantity of acetaldehyde in the system for several hours or longer. It is the acetaldehyde that produces most of the undesirable toxic effects. The acetate is metabolized to produce energy much like any other carbohydrate. Excess drinking can make you fat just as binging on pasta, ice cream or any other carbohydrate would.
Alcohol & Acetaldehyde Toxicity
Acetaldehyde, produced primarily in the liver, but also in other organs to a lesser extent, readily binds to the walls of red blood cells and hitches a ride to all parts of the body including the brain. By attaching itself to the red blood cells, it makes them more rigid and prevents them from entering the smaller capillaries. (The smaller capillaries are much smaller than a red blood cell and the cell is forced to stretch, elongate and squeeze its way through.) This reduces the oxygen supply to most of the cells of the body including the brain. ( The Brain consumes 20% of all the oxygen we breathe). Acetaldehyde also combines with the hemoglobin in the red blood cells further reducing its ability to carry oxygen.
In addition to inducing hypoxia (oxygen starvation at the cellular level), Acetaldehyde reduces the ability of the protein tubulin to assemble into microtubules. Microtubules provide a structural support for the neurons and dendrites in the brain and actually transport neurochemicals manufactured in the nerve cells to the dendrites, including genetic material. Without the microtubules, the dendrites gradually atrophy and die off.
Acetaldehyde also induces deficiencies in B1 (Thiamine), B3 (Niacin), NAD, Acetyl Coenzyme A, B5 (Pantothenic Acid), P5P (Pyridoxal--5-Phosphate) and inhibits Prostaglandin synthesis.
B1 deficiency can produce a syndrome characterized by mental confusion, poor memory, poor coordination and visual disturbances.
B3 and NAD (an enzyme made from B3) are involved in the metabolism of sugars and fats into energy and are an important catalyst in the production of neurotransmitters, including seratonin, and activates the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase. Niacin deficiency symptoms include feeling fearful, apprehensiveness, worry, suspicion, depression, headaches, insomnia, depression, agitation and inability to concentrate.
B5 and its active form, Coenzyme A, is the most important component of the Krebs cycle which produces 90% of the body's energy. It is also the precursor of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter.
P5P is the major enzyme that is necessary to form virtually all major brain neurotransmitters. It also regulates the admission of magnesium into cells and thereby controls the excitability of nerve cells.
Acetaldehyde is also known to promote the production of opiate like chemicals in the body and promote the development of addiction to toxic substances.
I realize that this may be more information than you wanted. I've shortened this severely but the point is that acetaldehyde is a very dangerous toxic chemical to have in the human body and brain. In addition to alcohol consumption, inhaling cigarette smoke or auto exhaust are other sources of acetaldehyde. The existence of certain strains of alcohol producing yeast in the GI tract can also be a source.
Protecting Yourself from Acetaldehyde Toxicity
The vulnerability of individuals to acetaldehyde and alcohol toxicity varies with genetics, nutritional status and history of exposure. Nutritional status is extremely important and is a variable that an individual can take immediate control of. Replacement of the nutrients used or destroyed by acetaldehyde prevents deficiency damage and symptoms and facilitates the metabolism of acetaldehyde into acetate. N-acetly-cysteine and Lipoic acid have also been demonstrated to have an exceptionally powerful protective effect against acetaldehyde toxicity. The list of known protective nutrients include: Lipoic Acid, N-acetyl-cysteine, Vitamin C, B1, B3, B5, b6, Zinc, Gamma Linoleic Acid and Silmarin Extract.
Those who choose to consume alcoholic beverages whether it is red wine or something else can protect themselves from many of the toxic effects with a good supplement regimen. While a good supplement regimen has been clinically demonstrated to be extremely powerful in protection against acetaldehyde toxicity, this is not to imply that supplements will protect you from all of the harmful effects of acetaldehyde.
Get the Health Benefits of Red Wine without the Alcohol
No amount of scientific data or eloquent arguments will convince a wine lover to forgo the red liquid. There are times, however, when you may want to obtain the health benefits without alcoholic intoxication, like when you have to drive a car, use power tools or operate machinery. There are also those who simply don't like red wine but would like to enjoy the health benefits. One of the features of our capitalistic system is that every time a new health benefit is discovered for a component of a common food, some entrepreneur extracts the good stuff, puts it in capsules and rushes it to market. So it is with red wine. You can now easily obtain red wine polyphenols, grape seed extract and resveratrol in capsule form. I cringe when I think of swallowing a capsule rather than enjoying fresh broccoli, tomatoes or even a glass of quality red wine, but in the case of wine, I do want the health benefits without having to deal with the alcohol, especially at inconvenient times. The good part is that the red wine polyphenols and resveratrol in capsule form cost only a tiny fraction of the same quantity when obtained in any quality red wine.
To get the health benefits of red wine without the negative impact of alcohol, you can purchase resveratrol and mixed red wine polyphenols in capsules. One capsule of red wine polyphenols is approximately equal to the polyphenol content of one bottle of wine. Resveratrol is the isolaed component that is recognized as the source of the known health benefits of red wine. One to two capsules per day is the recommended dosage. Compare these per month costs with the cost of a single bottle of quality red wine.