Help fight ageing with… red wine?

Red wine, the cultured person’s drink. New evidence now suggests it may be the healthier person’s too.

Researchers from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, USA, have found that a substance abundant in the skins of red grapes, called resveratrol, may help slow the ageing process.

But before you go downing the nearest bottle of Merlot, the study has a few caveats.

First of all, the study was conducted on rodents. So unless you’re a mouse, the results may not really apply. The mice were given 400mg of resveratrol per kilogram of body weight each day for a year, equivalent to 28g in a 70kg woman – sadly, this equates to 2,000 litres of the most resveratrol-rich wine (the average range of red wine being 0.2mg to 12.6mg per litre).

When the mice turned two after a year of treatment, the team examined their muscles and nerves. They found that resveratrol was able to help prevent fragmentation of neuromuscular junctions and better preserve their muscle fibres as the mice age.

The researchers didn’t just test the effects of resveratrol on muscle fibres and junctions. Along with the diet supplemented with resveratrol, they compared how the mice fared with a normal, a calorie restricted diet and a diet supplemented with the drug metformin.

The calorie restricted mice actually had better preserved neuromuscular junctions and muscle fibres, similar to how they look in three-month old mice. Metformin was found to have little effect.

Now I realise this isn’t a great help in assessing how much red wine you should be drinking. But one thing is for sure, don’t go guzzling down glass after glass hoping that it will help you age better – it won’t. Hopefully researchers will look further into how resveratrol helps ageing in humans and then we could potentially pinpoint the exact affect red wine has on the ageing process.

Until then, as pointed out in this study, eating less and watching the number of calories you consume will go a lot further in helping you age blissfully than finishing a bottle of red wine.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dominic Rees
Editorial Health Researcher