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Man vs. Nature

by Jeff Cordeiro

Red Wine and ResveratrolTwo well-respected network news programs recently had stories on Resveratrol and I can’t think of a better way to show how a point of view can distort things and how common-sense seems to be quite uncommon.

In 1991 the big question in health was why the French lived longer in spite of their high-fat diet, cigarette smoking and wine consumption. As it turns out, the secret to "The French Paradox” might be in the wine itself. A component in red wine, called Resveratrol, may be what's keeping the French so healthy.

Fast-forward to 2009. Both Barbara Walters and 60-Minutes interview a doctor that was looking for a way to activate a gene in our bodies that he terms the “survival gene”. Well, lo and behold, quite accidentally, after testing thousands of substances, he discovered that Resveratrol can activate this particular gene.

He showed tests with mice living longer, running further, and being trimmer, all due to his adding Resveratrol to their diets. Sounds great. Here’s the catch. When asked how much wine we would have to drink a day in order to gain these health benefits, the doctor answered “1000 bottles”.

Well, obviously we can’t drink 1000 bottles of wine a day so, based on that information, modern science must step in and synthesize Resveratrol, which of course can then be patented and before you know it the doctor and his partners have sold their start-up company to one of the major pharmaceutical companies for three-quarters of a billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a “B”.

So, let me get this straight. We discover that the French live longer because they drink wine that contains Resveratrol but we can’t get enough Resveratrol from wine so we have to isolate it and synthesize it. Really! This sounds like a skit from Saturday Night Live. 

My rule of thumb is simple; if nature made it, it’s probably healthy. If man made it, it is probably unhealthy. After all, we have been on this earth longer than drugs or preservatives or artificial sweeteners or cake, for that matter. 

More often than not, when man tries to improve on nature (medicines are derived from substances found in nature) something goes wrong. We usually don’t see it right away but, 10-20 years down the road, something inevitably is discovered negating that wonderful “improvement”. The most obvious example is antibiotics. First, the answer to all sorts of health issues. Now, the spawn of super-viruses that no medicine can combat. 

A less obvious culprit is the low-fat diet. According to Dr. Perricone, it is one of the main reasons Americans are obese and adult-onset-diabetes is now attacking our children. Our bodies need fat to burn fat. I can go on and on but I’ll save these other examples for future articles.

Suffice it to say that Americans are unhealthier than ever and we have no one to blame but ourselves. All we have to do is get back to nature and stop trying to improve upon it. Things, like Resveratrol, come from grapes and will not work properly without the other things in grapes. So, stop waiting for a super-pill and have a glass or two of wine (if you're the right genotype, like most of France is apparently). Go buy your fruits and vegetables from the Farmer’s Market. Have an egg from a free-range chicken with breakfast (yes, they now say there’s something in eggs that prevents our bodies from absorbing too much cholesterol – oh and we need cholesterol to manufacture hormones – oops, that’s another article).

I do not deny that we are living longer due to modern medicine but ask yourself if we are living a better quality of life. There are currently about 84,000 Americans over the age of 100 and it is now estimated that there will be over 1,000,000 Baby-Boomers that live to be over 100. Like the old joke goes, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself”. You’ve been warned. You’re going to live that long. 

You be the judge. Here are links to the Resveratrol company interviews:

Barbara Walters

60-Minutes

As always, I hope you found this article thought-provoking and helpful.

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