Life Extension Magazine July 2005
Broad-Spectrum Effects of Grape Seed Extract
By Terri Mitchell
Take 20 Years Off Your Brain
Ever wish you could think of things, and remember like you used to? The brain ages just like the rest of you. The important thing is to counteract the wear and tear as much as possible.
There is good news on this front. For the first time in history, researchers have proven that a supplement reverses brain aging at the most basic level: proteins. This exciting research is like discovering what is wrong with each brick of an aging house.
What these researchers found is that age not only causes proteins to be lost, but also causes undesirable proteins to be gained. The age-related increases are just as detrimental as age-related decreases.
This research from the University of Alabama shows that grape seed extract normalizes 13 different brain proteins back to youthful levels.14 Undesirable proteins that impede the brain’s ability to make new cells are reduced.14,51 (New brain cells are made in certain areas of the brain throughout the human life span. For more information, see “Reinventing the Brain,” Life Extension, August 2000.) A protein that makes a type of scar tissue in the brain is also reduced, potentially helping the brain recover from injuries like stroke.14,52,53 The same protein also shows up in certain types of brain tumors and in Alzheimer’s disease.54,55 Grape seed extract reduces these undesirable proteins, while at the same time increasing other proteins that are lost with age.14
The researchers concluded that polyphenols have diverse effects on brain aging.14 This research is also noteworthy in that it shows, for the first time, that “normal” aging can be reversed in a healthy adult rat. Most brain dementia studies examine diseased or aged brains instead of healthy ones.
Grape Seed for Bones and Metabolism
Grape seed extract is a very broad-spectrum supplement. It is a powerful antioxidant against diverse types of radicals; it stops ulcers as effectively as some drugs; it can keep sun-induced papillomas from turning into carcinomas; and it helps maintain bone in the jaw.56-59 This feature may help to preserve teeth. Studies have shown that healthy teeth and gums may reduce the risk of premature death.60 Bones, too, are important for health, as fractures greatly increase the risk of mortality.61
Grape seed extract and resveratrol together may have additive effects. In 1998, Japanese re-searchers first showed that resveratrol directly stimulates the cells that make bones.62 They subsequently demonstrated that resveratrol supplements maintain bone strength in older rats.63 Sun-dried skin also benefits from grape seed extract, which reverses some of the damage.64
Another benefit of grape seed extract is that it streamlines metabolism. This is very important for many reasons, but perhaps one of the most compelling is that blood sugar affects longevity, and “longevity genes” are linked to insulin and other factors having to do with metabolism.65,66 Type II diabetes has been characterized as “severe insulin resistance,” a condition that causes a form of premature aging.67,68 Clinical studies show that grape seed extract stabilizes blood sugar, mobilizes fat, and causes people to eat slightly less.69-71
The Future of Grape Nutraceuticals
Last year, Chinese researchers reported finding three new compounds in grape seed.72 All that is known about them so far is that they protect DNA against free radicals. What else they may do remains to be seen. Are they new “super-antioxidants”? Will they stop certain types of cancer? Will they chase off toxins? Or keep blood vessels and bones from aging? Nobody knows yet, but the prognosis is good that they will not disappoint us. The science of grapes is, to use the word of researchers, remarkable.
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