Is Resveratrol an Exercise Pill?
EDITORIAL

Is Resveratrol an Exercise Pill?
Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun, and Double How Far You Can Run

s we go to press, a paper has just been published showing that resveratrol greatly increases physical performance in normal young mice.1 This follows hard on the heels of the recent finding, by David Sinclair and colleagues, that resveratrol extends lifespan in obese middle-aged mice by providing the health and longevity benefits of caloric restriction—without caloric restriction (see the article on page 4)! All this suggests that resveratrol is a sort of “fountain of youth,” at least for mice, and probably for humans.

In the new study, by Johan Auwerx and colleagues, resveratrol-supplemented mice ran twice as far as those not receiving it. Resveratrol facilitated their muscles to produce more energy, more efficiently. The study confirmed a connection found previously between the principal biochemical pathway activated by resveratrol and an animal’s physiology. Since that same pathway exists in humans, it’s likely that human physiology will respond similarly.

Whatever your physical condition, any continuous exertion, such as running, will eventually result in exhaustion. But if the new study holds for humans, supplementing with resveratrol might double the distance you could run before exhaustion set in, and you would appear to be a trained athlete, with a reduced heart rate and more powerful muscles. According to Auwerx, “Resveratrol makes you look like a trained athlete without the training.”

Will Exercise Become Obsolete?

In an article we published last August (“Resveratrol—Star Molecule Against Disease and Aging”), we quoted from a 2006 paper by Joseph Baur and David Sinclair, who said, “In addition, resveratrol treatment increases mitochondrial biogenesis … and, at least under certain conditions, improves insulin sensitivity, which is consistent with observations in calorie-restricted animals.”4 [emphasis added] It is these benefits that the Auwerx study points to as the principal explanations for increased muscle power. Mitochondrial biogenesis means the production of more mitochondria, the organelles that produce energy within the cell.

Indeed, the mice fed resveratrol were found to have more mitochondria in their muscle cells. These mice burned more fat, did not gain weight (unlike the mice in the Sinclair study), and had improved insulin sensitivity. Especially interesting was the fact that their muscle fibers appeared to be more like the type developed by trained human athletes. Could resveratrol be an exercise nutrient that can provide the benefits of exercise without the need to exercise? Could resveratrol make exercise obsolete?

Unfortunately, the amount of resveratrol used in the Auwerx study was 400 mg per kilogram of body weight, per day, which is 18 times greater than the largest amount used in the Sinclair study (22.4 mg per kilogram of body weight, per day). Dr. Sinclair and his family and colleagues take 5 mg of resveratrol per kilogram of body weight, per day, or 22% of the 22.4-mg/kg amount he gave his obese mice. If we applied that 22% factor to the 400-mg/kg amount used in the Auwerx study, a would-be human athlete would need to take about 88 mg of resveratrol per kilogram of body weight, per day. For a 75-kg (165-lb) human, the total daily consumption would then be 6.7 g, a pharmacological amount that is not advisable, especially for men, based on studies showing that resveratrol can act as a powerful systemic aromatase inhibitor when very large amounts are taken.5

The enhanced metabolism seen in the Auwerx study was due primarily to the resveratrol-mediated activation of an enzyme called PGC-1α, which stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis.

Next month, in our ongoing series on Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s 21st Century Weight Loss Program (see Part 2 of their Glycemic Control Strategy on page 16), we will learn that there are other ways to enhance PGC-1α activity. Durk & Sandy will offer a formulation to do just that—one that will also, by the way, contain a large amount of resveratrol (about half of what Sinclair is taking). These ingredients and others will be used in combination in the second major product division of the weight loss program.

Also, we will cover the Auwerx study (along with any other important developments) next month, so stay tuned. These are extremely exciting times for life extenders and life enhancers.

References

  1. Lagouge M, Argmann C, Gerhart-Hines Z, Meziane H, Lerin C, Daussin F, Messadeq N, Milne J, Lambert P, Elliott P, Geny B, Laakso M, Puigserver P, Auwerx J. Resveratrol improves mitochondrial function and protects against metabolic disease by activating SIRT1 and PGC-1α. Cell 2006 [online preprint; doi 10.1016/j.cell.2006.11.013].
  2. Baur JA, Pearson KJ, Price NL, Jamieson HA, Lerin C, Kalra A, Prabhu VV, Allard JS, Lopez-Lluch G, Lewis K, Pistell PJ, Poosala S, Becker KG, Boss O, Gwinn D, Wang M, Ramaswamy S, Fishbein KW, Spencer RG, Lakatta EG, Le Couteur D, Shaw RJ, Navas P, Puigserver P, Ingram DK, de Cabo R, Sinclair DA. Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a high-calorie diet. Nature 2006 [online preprint; doi 10.1038/nature05354].
  3. Wade N. Red wine ingredient increases endurance, study shows. The New York Times, Nov. 17, 2006.
  4. Baur JA, Sinclair DA. Therapeutic potential of resveratrol: the in vivo evidence. Nature Rev Drug Disc 2006;5(6):493-506.
  5. Wang Y, Lee KW, Chan FL, Chen S, Leung LK. The red wine polyphenol resveratrol displays bilevel inhibition on aromatase in breast cancer cells. Toxicol Sci 2006;92(1):71-7.

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