Let’s talk about wine.

Now, if you know my work, if you’ve read anything I’ve written over the last decade, or you’re at all familiar with my story, you know that I haven’t had a drink since, oh, somewhere around 1982.

But it’s National Wine Day, so, here we are. And the fact that I personally don’t drink doesn’t mean I’m not fully aware of wine’s benefits.

So how can a non-drinker like me still get the well-established health benefits that come from moderate drinking?

Actually, it’s not hard.

See, the benefits of wine are two-fold. First, alcohol in general is a “disinhibitor”.  And, frankly, a little relaxation of our inhibitions once in a while is a good thing. It helps grease the wheels of social interaction, loosens everyone up, helps conversation to flow, lowers stress hormones, and—sometimes—even helps to develop intimacy (if you’re lucky, that is). But with alcohol, the dose makes the posion. Too much disinhibition can result in disaster, as anyone who’s ever seen a crazy frat party well knows.

While the disinhibiting/relaxing/social-interaction-facilitating effect of alcohol applies to all alcohol, wine has a second, unique benefit which comes from the skin of the dark grapes from which it’s made. Those grape skins contain a host of valuable plant compounds known as polyphenols, most of which have demonstrated significant health benefits.

In the case of red wine, one of the most potent of the polyphenols is a compound known as resveratrol.

Resveratrol is known as an anti-aging nutrient, largely because of its effect on a group of genes known as the SIRT genes. The SIRT (or sirtuin) genes are involved in aging, and activating them appears to extend life. There’s a ton of research on how to activate these genes, and in virtually every species tested—from yeast, to fruit flies, to monkeys—activating these genes extends life. But before the discovery of resveratrol, the only way to turn these genes on was with calorie restriction.

The discovery that resveratrol mimics the effect of calorie restriction was a red-letter day for folks who wanted the anti-aging effects of calorie restriction, but didn’t fancy to the idea of eating two asparagus sticks for dinner.

If activating the SIRT genes was all that resveratrol did, that would be enough to recommend it as a supplement. But subsequent research has shown that resveratrol has a resume that goes far beyond merely turning on your longevity genes.

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant. It’s anti-inflammatory. It supports the heart by protecting the endothelium, the inner layer of your arteries. It helps block the production of a highly inflammatory compound called Nf-kB (nf kappa b). It helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol (and let’s remember that the only type of cholesterol we need to fear is oxidized cholesterol).

But wait! There’s more.

Resveratrol may limit the spread of cancer cells. It may help protect nerve cells in the brain and limit the buildup of plaque that is associated with Alzheimer’s. And if all that weren’t enough, it significantly reduces insulin resistance, which is associated with both diabetes and obesity.

Pretty impressive, don’t you think?

 

So how do you get the benefits of reservatrol without drinking wine? With reservatrol supplements. 

But shop for the supplements wisely.

The dirty little secret about resveratrol supplements is that most only contain a small amount of the active form of resveratrol, which is known as trans resveratrol.

Look on the nutrition facts label of any resveratrol supplement and you’ll probably see small print saying something like “standardized for 10% trans”. That means that only 10% of the resveratrol in the capsule is of the trans variety. So a 500 mg cap standardized for 10% would yield 100 mg of trans, the only kind of resveratrol you care about.

Reserveage is one of the only companies I know of that manufacture resveratrol supplements that are 100% trans resveratrol. It comes in both 250 mg and 500 mg capsules, and either one should do nicely as an addition to your supplement regimen. I’ve been including resveratrol by Reserveage in my daily supplement regimen for about a decade.

So if you’re a non-drinker like me, and you don’t want to pass up all the benefits of red wine, consider taking a resveratrol supplement. You won’t get the buzz you get from wine (sorry), but you will get an awful lot of the health benefits.

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