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Red Wine Improves Mobility in Seniors

Monday, 20 Aug 2012 12:07 PM

Resveratrol, the "miracle molecule" found in the skins of grapes used to make red wine, may help improve mobility in seniors and prevent life-threatening falls, says a new study that was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Researchers hope their findings could lead to the development of natural products that would help older Americans lead safer and more productive lives.
"Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our aging population," said Jane E. Cavanaugh, Ph.D., leader of the research team. "And that would, therefore, increase an aging person's quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalization due to slips and falls."
According to the American Geriatrics Society, about 1 in 3 older Americans have difficulty with balance or walking, and falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in people older than 65.
Seniors who have Parkinson's disease and other age-related neurological disorders are at particular risk of motor-related problems, says Cavanagh, who is with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Although some drugs can help some of the movement problems caused by these disorders, there are no comparable treatments for balance and walking in otherwise healthy adults.
Cavanaugh and her colleagues fed young and old mice a diet containing resveratrol for eight weeks and periodically tested their ability to navigate a balance beam. Initially, the older mice had more difficulty, but by week four, their balance had increased to the point where they were on par with the young mice.
Although the mechanism is unclear, researchers believe resveratrol lessens the damage done by oxygen free radicals.
Previous studies have shown that resveratrol — an antioxidant found in red wine and dark-skinned fruits — might help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, slash the risk of heart disease and certain cancers and, perhaps, have some anti-aging effects in the body. Resveratrol is available as a dietary supplement and is abundant in foods such as red grapes, blueberries and nuts.
Although she is encouraged by the results, Cavanaugh notes that resveratrol does have some drawbacks. For instance, it is poorly absorbed by the body. In fact, she calculates that a 150-pound person would have to drink almost 700 4-ounce glasses of red wine a day to absorb enough resveratrol to get any beneficial effects. That's why she and her colleagues are investigating similar man-made compounds that mimic the effects of resveratrol and might be more bioavailable to the body.
Nevertheless, the researchers suspect that even if the effects of resveratrol in the brain are minute, they could potentially be enough to keep older people steady on their feet and avoid serious falls.

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Resveratrol, the "miracle molecule" found in the skins of grapes used to make red wine, may help improve mobility in seniors and prevent life-threatening falls, says a new study that was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.
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2012-07-20
Monday, 20 Aug 2012 12:07 PM
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