Can red wine undo the negative effects of bad eating?

It appears that, yes, regular red wine drinkers have another compelling health reason for their practice. Scientists recently revealed a new benefit of resveratrol, a substance that naturally occurs in berries, skin of grapes and red wine.

Studying resveratrol’s effect on rhesus monkey diet, the team of Georgetown University professor Dr. J.P. Hyatt proposed that supplementing with this natural compound can counter the negative effects of a high-fat, high-sugar diet on one’s hind leg muscles.

Resveratrol has previously shown to improve lifespan of and delay diabetes onset in mice, even mirroring the positive impact of an aerobic fitness routine in one study.

The researchers fed the first monkey group an ideal diet and provided another one a high-fat, high-sugar diet, with half of the second group given a resveratrol supplement. They examined the muscles located in the back of the leg that would likely respond to resveratrol: “slow” muscle, “fast” muscle and “mixed” muscle.

“It was hypothesized that age and a high fat/high sugar diet would induce a slow to fast myosin heavy chain (MHC) shift,” wrote the authors in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.

A large one extending from the knees to the heels, the soleus muscle is classified as a “slow” muscle extensively employed in walking and standing. Of the muscles in the lower hind leg examined in the research, it appeared to be most affected by high-fat, high-sugar diets and resveratrol supplementation, perhaps partly because it is used far more frequently than the others.

In this particular muscle, a protein called myosin – which assists in contraction and determines fast or slow action – moved from slower to faster with an unhealthy diet, with resveratrol counteracting the said shift.

A separate muscle called the plantaris, found along the back of the calf, did not respond negatively to the same diet – but reacted positively to the supplement, demonstrating a fast to slow myosin shift.

"The maintenance or addition of slow characteristics in soleus and plantaris muscles [implies] that these muscles are far more fatigue resistant than those without resveratrol,” explained Hyatt, adding that skeletal muscles that are slow are better able to sustain long-term activity and can enhance the physique, stability and mobility in the elderly.

The team, however, states that a daily recommended serving of red wine or fruits cannot do all the work; healthy eating, after all, is still part of the formula to wellness.

Separate research recently suggested that a high-fat, high-sugar diet can also impair one’s ability to stop eating when already full, another likely reason for putting on unwanted weight.

In the experiment, those fed a Western diet – compared with a healthy diet – had poorer memory task scores, poorer recollections of what they ate for snacks, reduced feelings of fullness and a greater consumption during lunch.

What this reflected was not necessarily calories as the evil behind cases of obesity and being overweight, but the sore lack of sensitivity to feelings of fullness, which leads to more food intake.

Photo: Daniella Segura | Flickr

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