Resveratrol Protects Against Blood Sugar Damage to Arteries

Tuesday, January 08, 2013
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Researchers demonstrated that a powerful mechanism for resveratrol is to protect against common damage to the arteries that leads to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular deterioration. This information is especially relevant to individuals with elevated blood sugar and other metabolic problems; it is also potentially valuable for anyone seeking to maintain cardiovascular health.

Lining the inside of your arteries is a coating of endothelial cells. These help regulate your blood pressure as well as provide a barrier of protection between what is floating around in your circulation and the potential accumulation of potentially undesirable substances in the walls of your arteries. This coating of endothelial cells is only one layer of cells deep, which means it is quite thin.  As such, factors that injure it are a first step to set processes into motion that lead to arterial accumulation of damaged cholesterol and other damaged protein molecules, such as advanced glycation end products (AGES), which are a main cause of health deterioration in type 2 diabetics or any person with elevated blood sugar levels (fasting blood sugar should always be 90 or below).

The study shows that under the influence of high blood sugar the integrity of the endothelial cell coating is stressed, actually swelling and becoming permeable so that large molecules can pass through it and begin to inappropriately accumulate in the artery walls. This process is a common health problem for type 2 diabetic patients, it affects their coronary arteries, carotid arteries, and circulation in their legs. 

Resveratrol stopped this leakiness of the endothelial cell coating, by helping it maintain proper structure even in the face of blatant stress. The molecular mechanisms were documented by the researchers, demonstrating resveratrol’s precise mechanism of protective action.

The study was intended to help type 2 diabetic patients have options to reduce serious cardiovascular disease progression.  However, the mechanism is also relevant to the general aging process. Part of aging involves moderate elevations in blood sugar, which in turn link to damaged proteins and forming a sugar-coated cement-like mixture called AGES. This study indicates that resveratrol can help prevent these AGES from permeating into the walls of arteries, thus preventing a major aspect of health deterioration.

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