Another good reason to enjoy a glass of red a day – resveratrol, the compound found in red wine grape skins, could help to improve balance and mobility in seniors, research has found. As reported on db.com, the findings, presented to the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, could lead to the development of natural products to help protect elderly people against life-threatening falls.
Researchers fed mice a diet containing resveratrol for eight weeks, and measured their ability to navigate a steel mesh balance beam. In the beginning, the elderly mice had difficulty, but after four weeks they made fewer mistakes and had similar balance to the younger mice.
Dr Jane Cavanaugh from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, who lead the study, said it appears resveratrol undoes free radical damage and helps cells survive. "Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol could decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our ageing population," she said.
"And that would therefore increase an ageing person's quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalisation due to slips and falls,” she added. Despite the positive breakthrough, a 150 pound person would need around 700 small glasses of wine a day to absorb enough resveratrol to get any beneficial effects.
Cavanaugh is investigating how to develop similar manmade drugs that mimic the effects of resveratrol while being more readily absorbed by the body. She is also trying to determine how much resveratrol actually enters the brain. Falls are the leading cause of injury related death among the over 65s. There are currently no treatments to help balance in healthy older adults.