Sunday, July 12, 2009

LAT on resveratrol "hype"

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article on how resveratrol has been turned into a marketing frenzy that may be distorting the science and getting ahead of the game

Though I am one of those who takes a daily dose of the stuff, it was never marketing hype that attracted me. I'd been following this type of news for some time and looked into it: In other words, I found the product, the product didn't find me. 

Still, that distinction will matter very little if it turns out that a daily high dose causes you to grow a tail after twenty-five years. 


  1. I am skeptical of supplements as the quality, content, and absorbability vary. Many supplements, like the the vitamin D in milk, are synthetic and inferior to natural vitamin D found in cold-water fish or made by the body. Some synthetic supplements like vitamin E and beta carotene were found to be harmful to smokers.

    The only supplement I take is pure cod liver oil, a natural supplement whose health benefits have been proven through centuries of human consumption across continents.

    I prefer to drink a daily dose of resveratrol in a small glass of North Carolina muscadine wine, the variety with the highest resveratrol content. You probably know that the fermentation process increases the resveratrol content significantly, so alcohol provides much more than grape juice. Another grape native to North America, the concord is also high in resveratrol. Every September I eat my resveratrol in the form of locally grown, sensually purple concord grapes.

    I'm guessing that you can't get muscadine wine or even locally grown grapes in Hawaii. If I couldn't get these things, I don't think I'd take a supplement. Supplements may help the sick or elderly with weak digestive systems, but a health person eating a balanced diet should do fine. In fact, I've even seen research suggesting that too many antioxidants are a bad thing as free radicals do serve a purpose in the body.

    If you're really interested in extending your lifespan and slowing aging, check out the research-based websites of Art Devany and Mark Sisson and the work of Dr. Ron Rosedale and Gary Taubes. (His slide presentation "Adiposity 101" is a must-see - will totally change your understanding of how people get fat) All of these men promote a low-carb diet to keep blood glucose and insulin levels in a low and stable range. Extra glucose in the blood bonds with cell proteins, creating AGEs, reducing elasticity of skin and blood vessels. Insulin is inflammatory and a fat promoter whose function is to drive glucose into cells. High insulin levels may, like high glucose, damage blood vessels over time.

    I prefer to spend my food budget on real food, not pills.

  2. In general, I prefer to get my nutrients naturally, but I do take some supplements. Many doctors recommend men who have prostate issues among their kin take zinc supplements from their thirties onward, for example.

    I take the fish oil supplements and I no longer take flax oil supplements because I add ground up flax seed directly to my oatmeal almost every morning. I should probably find a source that talks about these food additives (even natural ones) and their benefits and their potential harm. Any suggestions?

    As for resveratrol, I would get mine from red wine, but I simply don't have time in the day to drink some. Nights are often busy and I can't really drink red wine at school unless it comes in a juice box. Does wine come in a juice box? Probably not good wine.

    The resveratrol I consume is in a liquid form, not a pill, mixed with grape peel and something else I forgot now (I'm not in Hawaii at the moment, so I can't check the bottle). It's just my suspicion that things like cranberry juice or things from wine might be better absorbed or hold their own better if they are still in some sort of liquid form rather than dried and powdered and put in a capsule. But I have no scientific backing I've read for this suspicion.

    I prefer to eat natural foods, and I do a pretty good job with my breakfast, which typically consists of coffee with honey and milk, the "pure" oatmeal cooked with chopped up apple (including peel), cinnamon, and ground flaxseed, plus some yogurt and juice.

    For lunch I might eat a sandwich and for dinner I eat baked fish cooked in olive oil below the smoke point, plus some veggies.

    Fresh veggies in Hawaii are mega-expensive, and it's not like Korea where you can supplement costly "foreign" veggies with cheaper local stuff: Fresh produce in Hawaii is usually transported from somewhere else and the cost is prohibitive, particularly for someone on a grad student stipend who can't rely on Korean savings because of the miserable exchange rate.

    I end up consuming frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries, etc.) and frozen vegetables (especially peas), which beats (I think), canned veggies.

    I wonder how you'd do things if you were living in Honolulu.

  3. I'm surprised that most veggies are shipped in. Doesn't Hawaii grow anything besides taro?

    If I were living on a very limited budget, I would eat lots of bone-in poultry, tinned small fish like sardines, and cheaper veggies like cabbage, carrots, and onions. Fruit doesn't provide the same nutritional value per calorie as non-starch veggies, so I would cut them out if I couldn't afford them. Ditto for dairy. Leafy greens like kale are better sources of calcium than milk. I quit drinking milk years ago and only consume locally produced butter and cream when they're available to get the CLA in the fat.

    Your sample menu seems to have overlooked a very nutritious native food: coconuts. Their medium-chain fatty acids are an ideal fuel for the body. The liver doesn't need to break them down like long-chain fatty acids, creating harmful triglycerides.

    If you're taking fish oil, then why eat ground flax seeds? If you're not eating a lot of produce, then I suppose the fiber in flax would be beneficial.

  4. I googled to see which supermarket chains are found in or near Manoa. I wasn't able to download the weekly ad for Foodland but was able to view Safeway's. I only looked at meat, seafood, and produce, aka "real food." Prices for many items are comparable to sale prices I pay at our local Martin's or Food Lion. The only produce items that were more expensive in the circular were Washington cherries, watermelons, and avocados. Although I wasn't able to open up the Foodland ad, I did notice cabbage on sale for 49 cents a pound, the price I pay when they're on sale here. Since California's agriculture industry is huge, maybe you were used to paying really cheap prices when you were living there.

  5. Well,Resveratrol the Anti Aging is touted as the secret ingredient behind the "French Paradox"-the French live longer with less cases of heart disease despite a diet high in fat. Is it really possible to capture the life extending properties in the French diet and put it in a pill? Well many researchers and scientists will argue yes. The key is red wine. In particular, one specific component that is at the center of anti aging research and is being labeled as the life extension miracle ingredient-Resveratrol.


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