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Resveratrol for Skin, Brain, Heart Health

Updated: Nov 23

| Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition


Various television commercials over the years have focused on “you can’t just stop at one”. I find that to be the case for polyphenols like resveratrol. Once you start learning about what plant-based nutrients do for the human body, you want to find out more and make sure they are part of your diet. Beyond the great taste of grapes and berries, there lies far-reaching benefits for skin health, immune, brain, mitochondria, and more. Here are some important recent findings on resveratrol.


Resveratrol Basics:


Polyphenols are some of the most important phytochemicals found in plants. Resveratrol is a well-recognized polyphenol stilbenoid. The skins of red grapes have the highest concentration of resveratrol of any food source. It is also found in blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, peanuts, rhubarb, and other plants.


Resveratrol provides exemplary antioxidant benefits, manages oxidative stress and modulates inflammatory pathways throughout your body. It is considered an anti-aging nutrient and is known to provide similar positive effects as calorie restriction.


Skin Protection and Rejuvenation


Skin health, protection, and daily repair needs depend on many types of nutrients. In your skin, resveratrol provides many different types of antioxidant and antiaging benefits. It modulates several pathways such as prostaglandin pathways linked with PGE-2, PGE-1 and several others that affect signals like NF-kappa B and MMPs (matrix metalloproteinase). These inflammatory pathways and signals are critical to managing oxidative stress, cell proliferation, and apoptosis (cell death) in the skin from stressors like UV-radiation. Review studies demonstrated that resveratrol provides promising results for skin repair, scarring, and photo-aging protection.


Skin and Menopause


The wrinkles and crepe skin that occur with menopause are dreaded by many women. The decline of estrogen contributes to loss of collagen and elastin, etc. along with increased production of MMPs. This leads to dry skin and loss of elasticity and higher levels of oxidative stress to the skin. Cell and clinical studies have demonstrated that resveratrol enhances skin health from menopause changes.


Resveratrol, Immune Resilience, and Metabolism


Resveratrol and other polyphenols provide important nutritional sustenance for immune resilience, vitality, and general-purpose recovery. Several immune-mediated mechanisms and gene expressions are triggered and enhanced by resveratrol as it provides modulatory effects on cytokine synthesis, which affects cell inflammatory signals. Resveratrol also impacts signaling pathways that involves IL-17, NF-kappa-B and TNF-alpha.


Resveratrol has been shown to favorably modulate activity of angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2) in fat cells and the renin-aldosterone system related with kidney and blood pressure function. It enhances T lymphocytes, natural killer cell production and SIRT-1 activity for immune vitality.


Clinical trials in adult obese men demonstrated resveratrol’s activity with ACE2 and leptin management. This provided dual positive support for weight management and immune system vitality.


Resveratrol also enhances regulatory signaling mechanisms with cAMP, which supports insulin and pancreatic beta-cell function. It aids cells in releasing fats and burning them for energy and supports production of nitric oxide for blood vessel relaxation.


Resveratrol stimulates SIRT-1 and AMP-K. These enzymes direct blood sugar and fat metabolism, which supports insulin sensitivity, cholesterol metabolism, and mitochondrial function.


Aging well with immune integrity and vitality depends on healthy modulation of these housekeeping mechanism and optimal blood sugar and lipid metabolism. Research literature demonstrates resveratrol’s efficacy and contribution to these daily demands.


Brain and Mood


A discussion about resveratrol’s treasured benefits must also include its supportive role in brain and mood health. Healthy cognitive function and mental fitness with age is greatly impacted by mitochondrial health and energy production within your brain. Antioxidants are required to protect mitochondria structure and mitophagy. The latter is the housekeeping process used to clear out old, damaged, and worn-out mitochondria.


Polyphenols like resveratrol upregulate mitophagy and support mitochondrial biogenesis (birth of new mitochondria) during times of brain cellular stress. Resveratrol supports mitochondrial housekeeping duties of “Out with the old in with the new.”


A 2017 clinical trial in elderly adults evaluated the impact of resveratrol on cognitive function. Participants received either placebo or 1000 mg twice per day of resveratrol to enhance repair and antioxidant status. At the completion of the study, MMP levels declined in the spinal fluid reflecting less tissue wear and tear. Improvements were noted in cognitive skills and ability to manage self-cares.


Toxic by-products, like lipopolysaccharides (LPS) in the brain contribute to brain stress and mood challenges. Lipopolysaccharide is a toxin given off by non-beneficial germs often found in the gut. These toxins can cross the gut barrier, enter circulation, and travel throughout the body and into the brain. Within the brain, LPS toxins stress tissues and can activate the yes-associated pathway (YAP). Yes! This is the name of the pathway. When the YAP pathway is activated, it creates a stress response that impacts mood, focus, memory, and increases the need for cellular clean-up and antioxidants.


Animal studies showed that dietary resveratrol aided in blocking the negative effects caused by LPS toxins. It inhibited the YAP pathway within the brain and modulated mood and behavioral stress activities.


French Paradox and Dietary Intake


Regular consumption of red wine with a diet high in saturated fat and its effect on (cardiovascular) health has led to the term “French Paradox.” These health benefits are thought to be related in part to the concentration of resveratrol in red grapes and wine. The amounts of trans-resveratrol in wines and foods though is relatively quite small. Resveratrol in red wine ranges from 0.1-14.3 milligram (mg) per serving. Red grapes contain 0.16 – 3.54 micrograms (mcg) of resveratrol per gram.


The benefit of low dietary resveratrol intake comes with daily lifelong intake of whole foods and beverages made from antioxidant rich plants. The Western Diet lacks the dedicated lifestyle to whole foods. Drinking red wine with a few milligrams of resveratrol, with a poor diet does not make up for high calorie, nutrient poor foods and the challenges of alcohol. Always start with a diet rich in 5-9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables everyday.


The glow of your skin reflects one aspect of your dietary success. Internally aging well with cognitive functions, immune resilience, and healthy metabolism reflects the hard work and diligence of a healthy lifestyle. Consider resveratrol an important polyphenol for your successful journey in management of the alphabet soup of your body’s health activities. You can’t stop at just one grape or one berry!