LIFESTYLE

Scientists Discover How Red Wine Protects Against Age-Related Disease

23/12/2014 10:38 GMT | Updated 23/12/2014 17:59 GMT

Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in nuts, grapes and red wine, has long been associated with a range of health benefits such as cutting the risk of heart disease and boosting memory.

But scientists may now be one step closer to understanding how the compound works to improve health.

In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers found resveratrol may protect the body against age-related diseases by prompting an evolutionary defence mechanism which guards human cells against genetic damage.

red wine

The researchers found that resveratrol mimics another naturally occurring amino acid found in the body called tyrosin when combined with an enzyme called TyrRS - this can occur naturally in the body.

Tyrosin is known to stimulate a response in the body that limits stress and damage to the DNA of cells – which may result in ageing and disease if uninterrupted.

"This stress response represents a layer of biology that has been largely overlooked, and resveratrol turns out to activate it at much lower concentrations than those used in prior studies,” researcher Professor Paul Schimmel of the Scripps Research Institute, California commented on the study.

The combination of resveratrol and TyrRS was also found to activate other protective genes including anti-cancer gene p53, which suppresses tumours and other age-related diseases.

Co-author Matthew Sajish added: "Based on these results, it is conceivable that moderate consumption of a couple of glasses of red wine would give a person enough resveratrol to evoke a protective effect via this pathway.”

Having said that, before you have a guilt-free extra glass of red at Christmas, it's worth remembering that the NHS warn against drinking alcohol in access - it can lead to liver problems, reduced fertility and high blood pressure.

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