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Resveratrol may be natural exercise performance enhancer

Principal investigator Jason Dyck and his team found out in lab experiments that high doses of the natural compound resveratrol improved physical performance, heart function and muscle strength in lab models.

“We were excited when we saw that resveratrol showed results similar to what you would see from extensive endurance exercise training,” says Dyck, who works in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry as a researcher in the department of Pediatrics and the department of Pharmacology.

“We immediately saw the potential for this and thought that we identified ‘improved exercise performance in a pill.’ “

His team’s findings were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Physiology in late May.

Dyck and his team will soon start starting testing resveratrol on diabetics with heart failure to see if the natural compound can improve heart function for this patient group. The 10-week study is expected to start within the next few months.

“I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do,” says Dyck. “It is very satisfying to progress from basic research in a lab to testing in people, in a short period of time.”

The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Some resveratrol history

Resveratrol is often touted as the bioactive compound in grapes and red wine, and has been associated with the so-called ‘French Paradox’. The phrase, coined in 1992 by Dr Serge Renaud from Bordeaux University, describes the low incidence of heart disease and obesity among the French, despite their relatively high-fat diet and levels of wine consumption.

 

Interest in the compound exploded in 2003 when research from David Sinclair and his team from Harvard reported that resveratrol was able to increase the lifespan of yeast cells. The research, published in Nature, was greeted with international media fanfare and ignited flames of hope for an anti-ageing pill.

According to Sinclair’s findings, resveratrol could activate a gene called sirtuin1 (Sirt1 – the yeast equivalent was Sir2), which is also activated during calorie restriction in various species, including monkeys.

Since then studies in nematode worms, fruit flies, fish, and mice have linked resveratrol to longer lives. Other studies on resveratrol have suggested the compound to have anti-cancer effects, anti-inflammatory effects, cardiovascular benefits, anti-diabetes potential, energy endurance enhancement, in addition to offering protection against Alzheimer’s.

Journal Reference:

  1. V. W. Dolinsky, K. E. Jones, R. S. Sidhu, M. Haykowsky, M. P. Czubryt, T. Gordon, J. R. B. Dyck. Improvements in skeletal muscle strength and cardiac function induced by resveratrol during exercise training contribute to enhanced exercise performance in rats. The Journal of Physiology, 2012; 590 (11): 2783 DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.230490

Additional reading:

Red Wine: Exercise in a bottle?

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