Skip to main content

The weight is over: new hope for the wine diet

I write this post with a bit of trepidation, because anytime we get in to the topic of wine and weight loss the inevitable controversy about resveratrol diet pills comes up. In fact it is the most recent findings about resveratrol and diet that prompted me to write this, and like so many previous reports it seems to have been widely over-interpreted. Supplement manufacturers are all over it despite the fact that like nearly every previous study, it wasn’t done on humans.

The study in question was however done on lemurs, a type of primate, so in theory they are closer to humans than lab mice or fruit flies. There is however an important difference, in that these lemurs have a variable body temperature regulation system such that their metabolism varies with the time of year. In winter they gain weight, which provided researchers with a convenient model to study the effects of resveratrol. What was found with resveratrol supplementation was increased satiety (i.e. less hunger and eating), with faster metabolism and less weight gain during their “seasonal fattening period.”* Given the pattern that many of us humans experience during the winter holidays this sounds like good news indeed.

But alas we are not lemurs, and honestly we have little to blame our seasonal weight gain on other than a change in behavior. It may be of some comfort however to bear in mind that resveratrol is a red wine polyphenol, and evidence that wine drinkers maintain a health weight as compared to nondrinkers is reasonably substantial. Clinical trials on the use of oral resveratrol supplements on the other hand can practically be counted on, well, the other hand. Encouraging though this recent study is to resveratrol supplement peddlers, it is by no means clear that the same effect will be observed in humans. As for me, I will continue to take my “medicine” in red liquid form, as I believe nature intended. Call it the wine diet if you like.

*Dal-Pan A, Blanc S, Aujard F. Resveratrol suppresses body mass gain in a seasonal non-human primate model of obesity. BMC Physiol. 2010 Jun 22;10(1):11. [Epub ahead of print]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Wear red and DRINK red for women’s heart health

This Friday Feb 2nd is the annual “wear red” day in Canada and the U.S. to raise awareness for women’s heart health. Why only a day for the number one threat to women’s health? Women are 5 times more likely to succumb to heart disease than breast cancer, which gets a whole month (October.) Another contradiction is that the advice women hear about prevention of breast cancer is the opposite of what you can do to lower the risk of heart disease: a daily glass of wine. Even one drink a day raises your risk of breast cancer, we are told, ignoring the overriding benefits of wine on heart health. Drink red wine to live longer Here’s why I think women should also “drink red.” For starters, wine helps de-stress and celebrates life. Stress is a factor in heart disease, and if that were the only way wine helped it would be worth considering. But the medical evidence is also strong: a daily glass of red wine helps raise the HDL “good cholesterol” levels, which lowers the risk of cardiovascular p…

Which types of wine are the healthiest?

I am often asked after lecturing on the healthful properties of wine which type is best to drink. Since much of the discussion has to do with the polyphenol antioxidants from the skins and seeds of the grape, red wine is the first criterion since it is fermented with the whole grape rather than the pressed juice. This allows for extraction and concentration of these compounds, familiar ones being resveratrol and tannins. But beyond that, which varietals have the highest concentrations?


According to the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder, “The best kind of wine is that which is pleasant to him that drinks it” but modern science expects more specifics. (The point of course is that if you have a wine that you enjoy you are more likely to drink regularly and therefore reap the benefits.) But there are several difficulties in singling out certain wines for their healthful properties. Which compounds to measure? Are we talking about heart health or the whole gamut? Is it the varietal of the …

The J-curve is dead. Long live the J-curve!

There is a resurgence of debate about the validity of the J-curve, especially as it relates to alcohol and cancer. A 2014 report determined that “alcohol use was positively associated with overall mortality, alcohol-related cancers, and violent death and injuries, but marginally to CVD/CHD” (cardiovascular disease). In other words, there was little benefit if any in terms of heart disease but a big upside risk for cancer and accidental or violent demise. Gone was the French Paradox! The J curve is dead! Or not. Though that statement may be technically true, I looked at look at the data myself and found something different: a strong confirmation of the J-curve for overall mortality, overall cancer deaths, cardiovascular disease, and all “other causes.” This held for both men and women:
    Used under creative commons license from Ferrari P, Licaj I,Muller DC, et al. Lifetime alcohol use and overall and cause-specific mortality in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nu…