Saturday, October 30, 2010

Something new to chew on: Resveratrol chewing gum

My what a long way we have come since I first started lecturing and writing about wine and health a decade ago. For one, few had heard of resveratrol, the potent antioxidant in red wine, and many of those who had didn’t know how to pronounce it. Flash forward a few years and a few thousand research articles and now resveratrol is the flavor of the month, appearing in everything from diet pills to energy drinks. The discovery that it may activate the enzymes responsible for enhanced longevity normally associated with caloric deprivation catapulted resveratrol into the spotlight. Ads unabashedly tout it as the new fountain of youth. The latest version is a chewing gum, from a company called Gumlink A/S.


A few cautionary notes here, but there are also some good reasons why it might not be such a bad idea. Firstly, resveratrol hasn’t been able to explain all of the benefits associated with moderate wine consumption, and serious doubts have been advanced about whether it is truly capable of activating the longevity effect seen in lab experiments. So a healthy measure of skepticism is advised about any product, with or without resveratrol, that claims to deliver all the benefits of wine. But resveratrol is a remarkable molecule with many potentially useful capabilities for anti-aging. Several clinical trials are ongoing, though few have been completed.

So supplementation with resveratrol might not be a bad idea, we just don’t know enough to say for sure. One big problem with supplements is that resveratrol is poorly absorbed from the digestive tract, so most of it may be wasted. But research has shown that it is absorbed better from the lining of the mouth (oral mucosa) and I have speculated that wine drinkers who savor and swirl might be taking advantage of this without even trying. Another interesting line of research points to benefits of resveratrol in dental health. So assuming the resveratrol gum is sugar-free it just might be the ticket. Especially if it helps whiten those purple teeth from wine drinking.

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