Resveratrol’s Amazing Anti-Aging Effect on Circulation
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
The aging process is marked by increasing levels of free radical damage and inflammation. These processes injure multiple body tissues including those that comprise the circulatory system. In turn, circulation becomes “leaky” and inefficient, setting the stage for significant health problems. Several recent resveratrol studies identify how resveratrol provides near miraculous benefits to circulatory health, working to directly counter the forces of aging.
Neurovascular coupling is the process by which neurons and glial cells work in harmony with endothelial cells of the circulatory system to enable smooth blood flow in the brain, resulting in normal brain function. As different from a large artery feeding blood to an area, this activity is going on at the micro level. During aging neurovascular coupling becomes inefficient, marked by increasing levels of free radical damage and inflammation, which punch the endothelial cells in the nose. In a study comparing young mice to old mice, resveratrol significantly improved this problem by restoring the integrity of endothelial cells so that blood could flow normally. The authors concluded, “Beneficial cerebromicrovascular effects of resveratrol likely contribute to its protective effects on higher brain function in aging.”
Angiogenesis is the process new blood vessels form from pre-existing vessels. It is stimulated by a repair signal called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) which is responding to some form of stress. When this system is working efficiently, it assists your circulatory system to self-rejuvenate as well as recover from injury. During aging, the system begins to work inefficiently causing abnormal proliferation of blood vessels that are often leaky. When this happens to the tiny capillaries feeding the retina of the eye, it causes blood to leak out, the wet form of age-related macular degeneration. Another study shows that resveratrol prevents this from happening, providing another type of stellar circulatory support. The authors concluded that resveratrol “may be a useful adjunct to current anti-VEGF therapy in wet age-related macular degeneration.”
Inefficient angiogenesis is a main contributor to the decline of kidney function under the influence of the stress of high blood sugar, a common problem in type 2 diabetic patients. Excess sugar sets off a chain reaction of free radical damage to the endothelial cells of the kidney’s circulatory structures, leading to excess activation of VEGF. This leads to the formation of imperfect and leaky blood vessels, triggering increased rates of damage to kidney cells and impaired function of the kidneys – a problem called diabetic nephropathy. Resveratrol significantly changes the gene signaling relating to VEGF, reducing consequent kidney damage and bolstering kidney function.
Another common problem of aging is that the body tries hard to fix something but doesn’t do a good job. It then tries to hyper-fix the issue, like a carpenter behaving like a chicken with its head cut off. This results in magnified tissue injury. This is a key mechanism in all diseases of aging. In a recent study, this mechanism was evaluated in the context of faulty skin healing, wherein the net result is too much scar tissue formation. This is a common issue in the healing response of older people, as well as basic tissue recovery from wear and tear. Resveratrol directly inhibited the production of abnormal collagen by directly calming down the hyperactive carpenters and by properly sending malfunctioning cells to the recycling bin. This obviously has an impact on the healing response to elective surgeries that are performed for cosmetic purposes, which was the reason this study was conducted. The basic mechanism of action of resveratrol identified in this study reaches far beyond this purpose and to the general theme of assisting efficient recovery from wear and tear as one grows older.
Resveratrol activates the SIRT1 enzyme, often dubbed a “longevity” factor. In reality, the evolutionary purpose for SIRT1 is to help a person withstand starvation and to boost the stress response to various types of trauma, such as injury, that are likely to happen when a person hunts for food. In essence, SIRT1 was designed as a survival enhancer for younger people going through tough times. Fortunately for those of us growing older, much of what SIRT1 accomplishes is highly relevant to offsetting the problems of aging. Resveratrol is one way to help tap into this innate healing power.
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