So how does all this offer an alternative to the ascetic practise of calorie restriction for staying youthful? Polyphenols, chemicals made by stressed plants may be the answer. Resveratrol, one of nineteen chemicals screened by the Sinclair lab (Harvard), was found to boost levels of active Sir2/SirT1. On the back of this and other research, they set up a pharmaceutical company called Sirtris to pursue clinical studies on drugs with anti-aging properties. Resveratrol has earned a reputation as the current miracle anti-aging drug. For a more natural approach one could try the French diet, actually the red wine component, justified by the high levels of resveratrol found in grape skins, which counteract the not-so-healthy high-fat content of a typical French diet.

If a French style diet is not indulgent enough, you could then treat yourself to vinotherapie at exclusive winery spas such as the one at the Marques de Riscal city of wine in Rioja, with its ultra modern 21st century chateau. Here you can topically apply Sauvignon scrub and Cabernet shower gel and other polyphenol-rich skin treatments. However, forget the aesthetic, your skin just isn’t as porous as your intestines, so get stuck into those Spanish wines, which champion over typical French varietals such as Pinot noir with their high resveratrol content. Or, you could just stick to grape juice.

Beauty and youth aside, clinical studies into resveratrol and its derivatives are important to medical research. We’ve more reason than ever to believe that resveratrol might be a good treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and more recently just for an overall improved fitness, perhaps mediated through improved mitochondrial and muscle motor function. The debate now is all about the optimal dose. One more thing to note: you need to get resveratrol in the trans form. So just watch those resveratrol supplements on the health food shelves: most don’t contain the active form.

All in all, exciting things are afoot in the field of Sirtuins and Sirtuin-modulating molecules. Although we know more about yeast, there clearly are some epigenetic effects of Sirtuins in mammals, but perhaps it’s too early to imagine what epigenetic therapies might result from Sirtuin drug targets. But we do know that Sirtuin-boosters such as resveratrol hold therapeutic promise for many neurodegenerative, metabolic and heart conditions and even obesity. That said, popping a pill will never cure all ills and using resveratrol is no justification for self-indulgence. Remember, you can't have your cake and eat it.

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