A new study shows that a compound found in grape skin, peanuts, and red wine may prevent type 2 diabetes in obese people. These compounds prevent the harmful changes, such as inflammation and insulin sensitivity, which can lead to different health concerns. The results of the study are published in the journal, Cell Metabolism.
In this study, the researchers studied the beneficial effects of the compound resveratrol in human beings. Earlier studies have shown that this compound increases longevity and endurance in obese mice. It also enabled the mice to run about twice as far on a treadmill before they are exhausted. Researchers were curious to know whether this compound would have similar effects in humans.
In this study, 11 obese men who had no history of diabetes or other endocrine diseases were divided into two groups. The participants in the first group received a dose of resveratrol for 30 days, while those in in the second group received a placebo during the same period. About 150 milligrams of resveratrol was given in one dose, which was very less compared to the dose used in the animal study. To get an equivalent amount of resveratrol from red wine, one would have to drink more than 13 bottles in one day. The participants switched their group after four weeks so that all of them received both the drug and the placebo.
Researcher Patrick Schrauwen, PhD, professor in the metabolic aspects of type 2 diabetes at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, reports that the compound brought about a number of effects on metabolism that may lead to better overall health. Resveratrol reduced the levels of glucose, insulin, and triglycerides in the blood. It also reduced the amount of fat in the liver. Mitochondrial activity, the energy factories in the cell, also increased considerably. The results show that resveratrol improved the burning of fat by the muscles, and lowered the indicators of inflammation. “These effects are similar to those produced by exercise training and low calorie diet”, says Schrauwen.
Unlike exercise, the use of this compound did not help the person to lose weight, but it slowed down the metabolism. This may be an indicator of the fact that the body is using the calories more efficiently. According to Schrauwen, this is not a drug that would help a person to lose weight, but enables them to be more metabolically healthy.
Resveratrol activates the protein sirtuin, which influences aging and protects the cells against stress. Experts tell that the findings of the study are very exciting, but the results have to be considered with caution. Philippe Marambaud, PhD, Alzheimer's scientist at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, feels that the results are impressive as it provides the data from clinical trials. The drawbacks of the study include the small sample size and the short period of study. “Long-term effects of this compound should be found as it may be much better than the short-term effects or it could be completely contradictory to the short term results”, says Marambaud.
Rafael de Cabo, PhD, a senior investigator at the National Institute on Aging, in Bethesda, also agrees that the study is very important as an extension of animal studies. He also feels that the result should be considered with caution and more studies should be done before resveratrol can be recommended for treatment. He adds that though no serious side effects have been reported in the study.