Consuming alcohol isn’t a typical characteristic of a healthy diet, that’s pretty straightforward. This is especially true when we talk about mental health, since some studies suggest that any amount of alcohol can hurt your brain. However, if you still do so, at least drink it always in moderation and on a full stomach. In addition, preferably choose red wine instead of all the other options.
Red wine is notorious for its brain protecting and heart uplifting benefits. So what’s the reason behind this good reputation despite the well-known harmful effects of alcohol? It’s a molecule that is much more abundant in red grapes than in the white ones. It’s resveratrol, and fortunately drinking wine isn’t the only source of it.
What is resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a polyphenol, which is a group of plant compounds that function as antioxidants. It helps plants to fight back against UV irradiation, fungal infections, inflammation, drought or any kind of other environmental stress. Due to its protective properties it plays a key role in maintaining the health of plants.
This molecule is mainly concentrated in the skins and seeds of berries and grapes. Winemakers use these parts of the grapes during the fermentation process of red wine. Consequently, it answers the question why this type alcohol is a powerful source of resveratrol.
Beside the numerous animal researches on the plant compound, nowadays you can read quite a few human studies as well. However, it’s important to note that most of these studies that demonstrated the benefits of resveratrol used dietary supplements that provided the participants with much higher doses than any kind of food can. Let’s examine these potential benefits. (1)(2)(3)
1. Resveratrol can improve your memory
In 2014 the Journal of Neuroscience published a study which examined the effects of resveratrol on memory performance. Before this research there had been already evidence of the memory enhancing benefits of this compound, however only on primates. As a result, this time researchers focused on human participants.
During the experiment, the scientists examined two different groups. As for the first one, there were 23 healthy adults who supplemented their diets with daily 200 mg resveratrol for 26 weeks. The other 23 partakers received a placebo supplement for the same amount of time. Before and after the dietary changes they had to complete memory performance related tasks that were designed to measure the functional connectivity of the hippocampus. In other words, they evaluated an area that plays a key role in recall and learning. In addition, they also examined the effects on the participant’s glucose metabolism, which provides the fuel for brain function.
As far as the results are concerned, they observed significantly better retention scores in case of the resveratrol supplement taking group. They were also able to conclude that resveratrol increased hippocampal functional connectivity and improved glucose metabolism, which can be the reason behind the enhanced mental performance. (4)
Illinois researchers also conducted another promising study that supports this claim. They assessed the spatial working memory of mice after giving them resveratrol supplement for 4 weeks. According to their observations, the plant compound improved not just their memory function, but also their overall mental performance. The possible explanation behind this is the potent anti-inflammatory effects of resveratrol. Due to this property, it can support the function of the hippocampus, which is once again a complex brain structure involved in learning and memory. (5)
2. It can help you learn more effectively
According to a research, regular resveratrol consumption facilitated synaptic plasticity in mice. Plasticity is the capability of the brain to change and adjust to new pieces of information. Synaptic plasticity is the change that effects the synapsis, in other words the junctions between neurons that allow them to communicate. Consequently, it determines how effectively two neurons can communicate with one another and because of that it plays a key role in learning new things.
In addition, it also increased the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) production. BDNF is a protein that promotes the creation of new neurons, and also protects your already existing ones. Higher levels of it can result in significantly better executive function. To put it in another way, it can enhance a set of mental skills that you use to learn and manage daily life. For instance, it includes flexible thinking and self control, which are all crucial to help you understand new things. (6)
Beside the animal studies, human subjects researches also suggest similar benefits. One of the experimentations looked into the effects of oral resveratrol on cerebral circulation, which is the blood flow to the brain. There were 22 healthy adult participants who either took 2 doses of a 250 mg and 500 mg resveratrol supplement or a placebo on separate days.
As the next step, they had to rest for 45 minutes to let the compound to be absorbed, and after that they had to complete cognitive tasks. With regards to the results, the scientists concluded that resveratrol consumption resulted in increased cerebral circulation during the tasks. For this reason, it supports the proper functioning of your brain, since circulating blood supplies it with nutrients and oxygen that function as the fuel of your mind. (7)
3. It can keep your brain healthy
Numerous different researches concluded that resveratrol can help slow down age related mental decline.
In simple terms, the major reason behind this is the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the compound. That being so, it can reduce the formation of beta-amyloids plaques, that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, due to their toxic effects. Besides that, it can start out a chain of events that can protect your brain cells form damage. (8) (9) (10) (11) (12)
One of the most remarkable long-term studies on the subject suggests that it can slow cognitive decline by as much as a decade. With regards to the details, Dr. Wong from the University of South Australia examined 129 volunteers in two groups for 12 months. Some of the people had to take a 75 mg resveratrol supplement, meanwhile the rest of them received a placebo. According to the results, compared to placebo the resveratrol taking group had better overall cognitive performance. In addition, the plant compound also weakened the decline in cerebrovascular responsiveness to cognitive stimuli. In other words, it preserves cognitive function in elderly people. (13)
Some other research observed that resveratrol can prevent age related memory and mood disfunction. This is due to the stimulation of the growth and development of blood vessels and neurons in the memory center of the brain. Moreover, the plant compound has a very unique feature and it can cross the blood brain barrier, where its beneficial activities last for about 4 hours. The blood brain barrier is kind of a biological wall that doesn’t let bad things to enter your brain. Unfortunately it blocks the good things too, but resveratrol is an exception. (14)
4. It can improve your skin
Your skin inevitably has to face several challenges that can all lead to damage. For instance, harmful substances in your environment, harsh cold weather, wind or exposure to the UV rays of the sun can all hinder your endeavors to get flawless skin. Using certain cosmetic products can be definitely useful, but proper nutrition is probably even more important when it comes to protecting your skin.
Just like most of the other polyphenols, resveratrol is greatly beneficial for your skin due to its antioxidant properties. Firstly, it can help in the process of repairing the damage caused by the above mentioned stress factors. Secondly, it helps strengthen the skin and make it more resilient, so that it can deal with these challenges more effectively. Lastly and most importantly, it might even decrease some signs of ageing. (15)
In addition, regular resveratrol consumption can also support healthy blood circulation, which is crucial for a youthful and clean skin. If you increase your blood flow, it can carry more oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells and it can carry away waste products too. As a consequence, it’s extremely important for both the nourishment and detoxification of your skin. Improved circulation can be beneficial to fight against paleness, acne, wrinkles, bags and dark circles around the eyes. (16)
Beside the general cosmetic improvements, it might be even useful to treat certain skin conditions. Since your skin cells frequently come under high oxidative stress (a critical factor in a variety of skin disorders), it’s no surprise that the very high antioxidant potential of resveratrol can be invaluable for skin health as well. Based on the relevant researches the plant compound might be useful against inflammatory and hyper-proliferative skin disorders. Some evidence even suggest that it may help fight skin cancer too. (17)
5. It can help you reduce bodyfat
Researchers also examined the potential effects of resveratrol on weight loss, and according to the results it can be a useful tool to shred that unwanted bodyfat as well.
One of the relevant systematic reviews concluded that regular resveratrol supplement intake significantly decreased:
- Body mass index
- Waist circumference
- Fat mass
However, it didn’t decrease lean body mass. Subsequently, you don’t have to worry about losing muscle. (18)
Another 2011 study also suggests that resveratrol can be a useful tool to reduce bodyfat, and the results are supported not just with experiments on mice, but also on humans. (19)
Finally, one of the most interesting related researches examined two groups of mice that were both fed a high-fat diet. Only one part of this group received resveratrol supplementation, and the results shows that they didn’t gain as much weight as mice without the supplement. (20)
To explain it further, resveratrol enhances the ability of your muscles to absorb glucose from food. In other words, more calories go into your muscles and less into fat cells. As a result, it inhibits fat storage and the production of mature fat cells.
6. It can promote your general health
Finally, a decisive benefit is that it’s important both for your mental performance and appearance. Due to its potent antioxidant properties, a large body of scientific evidence shows that resveratrol can help protect your whole body. According to the most promising evidence-based benefits the plant compound may:
- Help lower blood pressure, because it can increase the production of nitric oxide (21) (22) (23) (24)
- Decrease LDL cholesterol oxidation, which contributes to plaque build ups in artery walls (25) (26)(27)
- Increase HDL cholesterol, which is know as the “good” cholesterol, since it helps remove other forms of cholesterol from your blood level (28)
- Activate certain genes that protect against aging related diseases (29)
- Have benefits for people with diabetes, since it can increase insulin sensitivity (30) (31) (32) (33)
- Ease and prevent joint pain by protecting cartilage from deteriorating (34) (35)
Although we need much more research, resveratrol supplementation shows promising results in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Based on the outcome of animal studies, it can fight cancer by three ways. Firstly, it might hinder the replication of cancer cells. Secondly, it may stop the spreading of hormone-dependent cancers. Thirdly, it might change gene expression, which can result in the inhibition of cancer cell growth.(36) (37) (38)
Once again, at this point we need more human subject studies as well to make sure it can be really useful against cancer. However, these initial findings demonstrate interesting cancer-blocking properties.
Are resveratrol supplements safe?
Most of the relevant human subject studies had healthy adult participants, and there wasn’t any kind of risks revealed during the experiments. Based on the results, people can tolerate the dietary supplementation of resveratrol. (39)
However, certain medications combined with the supplement might cause unwanted interactions. These are the following types of drugs and side effects:
- Anti clotting drugs (e.g. warfarin, heparin): may increase bruising, bleeding (40) (41)
- Immunosuppressants, anxiety and blood pressure medication: may enhance the effects of these drugs (42)
As a general rule, if you take any kind of medication regularly, you should always consult with your doctor before you start to use a new supplement.
The best resveratrol supplement
The number of researches suggesting the benefits of the superior anti-aging plant compound is rapidly growing, so more and more companies try to sell it as a supplement. As a result, it’s very important that you find the right product that can really offer you all of these advantages.
First of all, always choose a supplement that only contains natural ingredients and zero artificial fillers, coloring or flavoring. Secondly, choose something without gluten and dairy if your body can’t tolerate them. Thirdly, you should find a company that has a good reputation and ideally it has been operating for a longer period of time. Finally and most importantly, make sure that the product is tested for quality assurance.
Adora Organics has been a trusted name in natural health products, and their resveratrol supplement meets all of these requirements. They extract the formula from Japanese knotweed and it contains 605 mg trans-resveratrol. This higher content is very important, since as I’ve already mentioned the vast majority of the relevant researches used supplements that provided the participants with much more resveratrol than any food can. Additionally, their product is FDA approved, GPM qualified, and made in the USA.
Resveratrol is an exceptionally strong antioxidant, and a large body of scientific evidence suggests that it can provide you with invaluable benefits. The potential effects are especially remarkable with regards to the improvement of mental fitness, appearance and general health. However, the vast majority of these studies used resveratrol supplements, so the dosage was significantly higher compared to food sources.