I once commented to a friend that if weight loss came in a bottle everyone would buy it. With the discovery of a new herbal supplement, it appears that reality isn't too far off.
If you're familiar with the French paradox - the belief that French people can eat and drink what they want but still remain slim - you may be familiar with resveratrol, an extract derived from red wine. There is ongoing research that suggests you should incorporate this powerful supplement into your daily routine. Even anti-aging guru Suzanne Somers swears by it and here's why you should too:
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1. It's exercise in a bottle
Who doesn't love the idea of a multi-faceted supplement that seems to do it all? Resveratrol tops the list, especially when it comes to body composition. A study published in the FASEB Journal, suggests resveratrol may prevent the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. The study simulated the weightlessness of spaceflight giving one group resveratrol and the other none. The resveratrol group did not develop insulin resistance (a major underlying hormonal imbalance linked to belly fat) or a loss of bone mineral density, unlike their counterparts. This doesn't just benefit astronauts however. The results indicate that resveratrol may prevent the consequences of sedentary behaviours during periods of inactivity, whether from illness, schedule changes, injuries or even travel.
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Bottom line: Resveratrol can work for you both in and out of the gym by preventing a decline in metabolic health (and tissue like muscle and bone) when your levels of activity are at a minimum. Its bone-density preserving properties also show promise for women at risk for osteoporosis.
2. It can reduce your cancer risk
Elevated levels of estrogen can cause health problems in men and women, ranging from PMS and lower body fat, to endometriosis and estrogen-related cancers. Recent studies show that resveratrol stops breast cancer cells from growing by blocking the growth effects of estrogen. This discovery suggests that resveratrol is able to inhibit and counteract the development of hormone-resistant breast cancer cells. For the male counterparts, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have found that this power supplement may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
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In the study, resveratrol-fed mice showed an 87 percent reduction in their risk of developing the worst type of prostate tumours. In existing cases of prostate cancer, resveratrol was 48 percent likelier to stop or slow tumour growth compared to those who did not consume the supplement at all.
Bottom line: Resveratrol is beneficial for lowering the cancer risk for men and women, and has important implications for the treatment of women with breast cancer who develop resistance to hormonal therapy.
3. Use it to trick your fat cells
One of resveratrol's main advantages is that it can improve how your body handles what you eat and whether it's stored as fat or burned for fuel known as insulin sensitivity. Research published in Nature showed that resveratrol protected mice from the harmful effects of a high-calorie diet, including heart disease, weight gain and diabetes. Resveratrol appears to act on adiponectin, which is produced by our fat cells and helps us lose fat by improving our insulin sensitivity. Not only that, but according to a Purdue University study, this supplement may be able to block immature fat cells from developing and prevent existing fat cells from growing.
Bottom line: Insulin is the only hormone that tells your body to either store or burn fat and it's certainly not something you want in excess. Resveratrol appears to improve insulin sensitivity, which can ward off diabetes (in conjunction with a diet low in sugars and starchy carbs) and help you achieve your weight loss goals.
4. You can cool inflammation and boost immunity
Chronic inflammation is not only the culprit behind those aches and pains, but it's one of the primary causes of aging, disease and obesity. Resveratrol has been found to work on a cellular level, affecting macrophages, lymphocytes, and dendritic cells (your soldiers of immunity) to lower inflammation and boost your immune system. In one study, resveratrol was shown to enhance immune response in mice, and inhibit infection by herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 when taken within one hour of exposure.
Bottom line: Resveratrol can be added to an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral cocktail that should include curcumin (or turmeric),vitamin D3 and high EPA omega-3 fish oil supplements to lower inflammation, boost your immune system, improve joint health, and feel younger longer.
To take advantage of resveratrol's benefits I recommend taking 1-2 capsules of a high potency supplement. Depending on the brand, each capsule may be the equivalent of an average of 20 bottles of red wine. Studies have shown you'd need to drink in excess of 60 litres of red wine a day to absorb resveratrol's benefits, which we certainly do not encourage. There are foods - red grapes, peanuts and blueberries - and wines - Spanish reds and pinot noirs - that boast a higher than average resveratrol content, but to really see results we suggest sticking with a supplement.
Natasha Turner, N.D. is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist, and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet and The Supercharged Hormone Diet. Her newest release, The Carb Sensitivity Program, is now available across Canada. She is also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique. For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here.
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