Most research studies of resveratrol, the new wonder drug made from the skins of grapes and found in red wine, have focused on its anti-aging effects. However, new studies are being conducted to determine whether or not resveratrol can boost a person’s physical endurance, giving athletes an advantage in the field of competition.
In fact, several experts are now speculating that athletes may one day take resveratrol as an endurance and performance enhancer. The Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France recently conducted an animal study to determine whether or not high doses of resveratrol in mice would impact their endurance during exercise. The results of this fascinating study were published online in the journal Cell. In the study, the mice were fed a high-fat diet and given up to 400mg of resveratrol per kilogram of body weight prior to an exercise test.
A typical lab mouse can run roughly one kilometer on a treadmill before collapsing from exhaustion. During the study, however, the mice that were given the resveratrol supplements were able to run twice the distance of the mice that were not given resveratrol. The resveratrol-supplemented mice were also found to have energy-charged muscles and a much lower heart rate. Dr. Johan Auwerx, who headed this study said, “Resveratrol made the mice perform like trained athletes, without the training.”
The study also determined that one of the reasons why resveratrol is highly effective in boosting muscle endurance is because more mitochondria were present in the muscles of the resveratrol-supplemented mice. Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouses of cells” – they are very small organelles that are responsible for transporting energy to the cells. When more mitochondria are present in muscle tissue, more fat can be converted into energy. Consequently, less fat is stored. Dr. Auwerx posits that resveratrol might activate sirtuin genes in the body. The sirtuin genes then activate a substance known as PGC1-alpha, which in turn stimulates the muscles to produce more mitochondria.
As a result, the muscles of the resveratrol-supplemented mice in the study had characteristics similar to those of trained athletes, without any of the training typically required of such characteristics. The study also showed, however, that when the mice were given low doses of resveratrol, the sirtuin gene was not activated. While the study concluded that humans would have to drink hundreds of glasses of wine each day to get the equivalent level of resveratrol that was administered to the lab mice in the study, the recent introduction of highly concentrated resveratrol daily supplements has many people excited about the possibilities.
“This compound (resveratrol) could have many applications, including the treatment of obesity and diabetes. It may also improve endurance and help the frail,” said Dr. Auwerx. Dr. Auwerx is convinced that the results of his study may someday be replicated in humans. However, despite the extremely encouraging results, more research will need to be done to determine whether or not the results achieved in the mouse study can ever be achieved in humans.