Here are a few of the headlines you read this week:
"Red wine blunts benefits of exercise in men" –The Indian Express
"Too Many Antioxidants? Resveratrol blocks many cardiovascular benefits of exercise" –Science Daily
"Glass of red could undo the effects of exercising" –Express UK
"La 'pildora de la eterna juventud' es cuestionada (the pill of eternal youth is questioned) –La Nacion Costa Rica
A bevy of prior studies conducted in mice came to contrary conclusions. Mice on treadmills improved their endurance and stamina and many measurable parameters of health improved as well. But moving from mice to men is another thing. So why the disparity between studies with laboratory mice under controlled dietary and environmental conditions and senior (human) males in a placebo-compared trial?
Understand the motive
There is an organized effort by researchers worldwide to mischaracterize resveratrol, falsely claim it is not readily absorbed (in fact, absorption in humans is ~75%), is not bioavailable (now shown to be a myth), cannot pass through the blood brain barrier, as well as other false criticisms. The agenda is to produce patentable resveratrol-like molecules analogs) that can be introduced as drugs.
The actual title of the specious report published in The Journal of Physiology is "Resveratrol (not red wine as some erroneous news reports claim) Blunts The Positive Effects Of Exercise Training On Cardiovascular Health In Aged Men." This report is an example of dissemination of propaganda in modern medicine. Its numbers are accurate but it doesn't tell the "whole truth."
The investigators could have least come up with a study that was more believable, even if it is factitious. Upon careful analysis, the conclusions of this study diminish in importance to the point of being irrelevant and inconsequential. An analysis of the measures used and conclusions drawn in this study reveals intentionally distorted science.
Baseless conclusion that resveratrol negates exercise-induced blood pressure drop
For example, eight weeks of exercise modestly reduced blood pressure (by 5 mmHg, or 5 millimeters of mercury displaced on a blood pressure monitoring device), but these senior males did not have high blood pressure to begin with, and in fact, resveratrol also produced a blood pressure lowering effect, just a bit more modestly than exercise alone.
Both exercise-only and exercise+ resveratrol-treated men started with a mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) within the normal range (normal range for mean arterial blood pressure is between 70 and 110 mmHg. The exercise-only group started with an MAP of 95.3 and completed their exercise study with an MAP of 90.8 while the exercise+ resveratrol group started with an MAP of 96.3 and finished with 93.7.
Exercise-only reduced MAP by -4.5 and exercise+ resveratrol by -2.6. So both regimens slightly reduced blood pressure within the normal range. Whatever conclusion you can draw from this is questionable. It could just as easily been said that resveratrol helped to maintain blood pressure within the normal range (not too low, not too high) slightly better than exercise only.
Differences in cholesterol are inconsequential
The effects of exercise and exercise+ resveratrol on circulating levels of cholesterol ranged from modest (exercise) to nil (resveratrol). Generally exercise or any physical or emotional stress (such as exercise) will produce signals to release more sugar and fats (cholesterol) into the blood stream. The researchers in this study chose to describe the effects of resveratrol as "reversing (or blunting) the positive effects of exercise."
Upon examination, exercise-only reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol concentration from 3.3 (127.6 mg per deciliter) to 3.0 millimole per liter (116.0 mg/deciliter) of blood whereas exercise+ resveratrol reduced LDL from 3.6 (139.2) to 3.4 (131.5). While the exercise-only LDL change (-0.3, or -11.7) was considered statistically significant, the exercise+ resveratrol affect upon LDL (-0.2, or -7.7) was not.
Since there was no meaningful change in terms of disease risk (stroke or heart attack) it is difficult to interpret these cholesterol numbers as being anything more than statistically significant. These minor changes in LDL cholesterol appear to be inconsequential. Cholesterol measures largely never budged, if at all, far out of the "optimal" or "desirable" range.
Outdated cholesterol measures employed
In fact, the whole idea of "good" and "bad" cholesterol has recently been challenged. Raising HDL cholesterol does not reduce the risk of a heart attack. Reduction of LDL "bad" cholesterol does not meaningfully reduce the risk of a mortal heart attack. Harvard professor John Abramson reported in 2007 that reduction in total cholesterol with statin drugs does reduce blood levels of cholesterol but does not reduce the risk for cardiac death.
Regardless of how frequently cholesterol is mistakenly cited as a risk factor for cardiac death, these researchers chose to employ outdated measures of cardiovascular health. This is precisely why there is a French paradox, the fact the wine-drinking French consume more fats and have higher cholesterol but far lower risk for coronary artery disease-related mortality. Cholesterol does not equate with morality. Red wine and resveratrol produce heart health benefits by other mechanisms apart from cholesterol.
Synthetic resveratrol tablets used
The study employed a synthetic form of resveratrol that was not stabilized and was presented in the form of a hard-compressed tablet. Resveratrol is known to degrade when exposed to light, heat and oxygen. This may explain why the synthetic resveratrol in this study did not activate the Sirtuin1-survival gene.