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Resveratrol: A Real Anti-aging Product

By: Peter T. Pugliese, MD
Posted: November 25, 2008, from the December 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 5 of 13

Resveratrol and aging skin. Aging, although studied intensively, remains a mystery. Many physical and biochemical aspects of the aging process are known, but no single unifying concept has emerged that explains it all. For example, it is known that individuals undergo aging changes at different rates; that is, some faster than others. It is understood that aging is associated with certain physical changes, such as grey hair and wrinkled skin, but it is also known that these changes are not absolute signs of aging. Biochemical changes, such as loss of muscle and bone mass are evident, along with hormonal changes—mainly reproductive ability. It is becoming clear that aging is not inevitable, and that some steps can be taken to slow it down, one of the most important being the reduction of food intake.

CR brings about a great many positive changes in a person’s physiological make up, all of which make for longer, healthier life. CR triggers sirtuins, as well as reduces the strain on the body’s mitochondria. The less oxygen a person breathes, the longer their lifespan because the body produces fewer free radicals.

This fact points to free radicals and oxidative damage as one of the major mechanisms in the aging process. At the core of free radical damage is inflammation, and inflammation is responsible for many of the dysfunctional aging changes and many diseases. Here is an interesting and astonishing fact: humans actually age daily, bit by bit. Sure, there are few big happenings, either enzymatic or hormonal, but the daily damage has the biggest impact on aging changes. Why is this important? For one reason: It appears that the body cannot repair this damage as long as it is continuous. That is important! Stop the damage, and the repair will happen. It has been shown that 20-month-old mice (about 80-years-old in human years) can repair serious aging changes to become nearly normal in just two weeks.15 What this means is that aging can be controlled if the damage inflicted on biological systems every day is controlled. The changes seem to occur in 10-year increments. Look at the changes from age 10 to 20, and ages 40 to 50. After age 70, the changes are a bit more pronounced, and this may reflect an accumulation of many biological insults. The good news is that this process can be slowed down with diet and exercise. No one really wants to hear this, but there is strong evidence to support this concept.16

Caloric restriction

CR is a more palatable way of saying eating less, or dieting. It is considered a sound concept and enjoys widespread acceptance in the scientific community. As mentioned above, the gene Sir2 that promotes lifespan in lower organisms is called SITR1 in mammals. A major function of this gene is to promote cellular resistance to stress-induced death, but it also stimulates many changes in the cells, including metabolic changes in both glucose and lipid metabolism. The bottom line is that SIRT1 is up-regulated (a fancy word meaning “increased action”) with CR. This is the heart of a new theory about anti-aging called the Hormesis Hypothesis. Its core concept is that diet restrictions impose a mild stress on an organism. This stress then elicits a defense response that protects the organism against the causes of aging.17, 18 There are four key predictions made by the Hormesis Hypothesis:

  1. Caloric restriction induces intracellular cell-autonomous signaling pathways that respond to biological stress and low nutrition;

     

  2. These pathways help defend the organism against the causes of aging;