Science News

More Reasons For Red Wine Being Good For Us

Sun, 19th Nov 2006

Part of the shows Science in Antarctica and The Best Naked Science

Here on the Naked Scientists we've often talked about how scientists are uncovering more ways in which enjoying an occasional glass of red wine might be good for us - and in particular a compound found in grape skins and red wine called resveratrol. It has already been shown to increase the life span of mice by 15% and clinical trials are currently underway involving people with diabetes. Now we have news this week from scientists who have discovered yet another possible health-giving benefit of the red stuff - it could boost athletic performance and even help keep us thin. That's according to a new study, led by scientists from the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cell Biology in Illkirch in France, who have shown that high doses of resveratrol given to mice improves their muscle endurance and also stops them getting overweight. The researchers fed a group of mice on a very high fat diet, and then gave half of them a very high dose of resveratrol - the equivalent to a hundred glasses of wine each day for a human being. After 3 weeks, the mice that were taking the red-wine like supplements, only weighed 20% more than mice on normal diets. While the high fat diet mice that weren't taking the supplements weighed 60% more than the normal mice. To test their fitness endurance, the mice were put on treadmills, and it turned out that the ones taking the resveratrol supplements could run twice as far as mice on normal diets that hadn't taken any of the compound and there didn't seem to any nasty side affects of taking such large amounts of it. The researchers think this muscle boosting affect is likely to be linked to the affect resveratrol has on those tiny energy producing units inside living cells called Mitochondria - essentially what they do is burn the food we eat and convert it into energy that we use to move and grow. Now, it's thought that resveratrol might trigger the process that gives each cell more mitochondria - and with more mitochondria, more energy can be produced - a little bit like building more wind turbines to harness more wind energy. The amount of red wine you would have to drink to have these affects are unfortunately, rather huge, so taking resveratrol in wine form may be little use to us. But it may be possible to take supplements of the compound in the future - athletes may even start taking it to boost their performance - could red wine become a banned substance in the Olympic Games?


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