Turn Back the Clock on Aging Bones
A secret ingredient in peanuts and red grapes could be your ticket to stronger, more youthful bones. This incredible compound may help you avoid fractures so you can lead the life you want. Grape skins, grapes, peanuts, and red wine all contain resveratrol, a phytonutrient already famous for its ability to protect your heart. When researchers fed huge helpings of resveratrol to middle-age mice, they discovered that resveratrol helped prevent bone loss, too. Fortunately, resveratrol doesn’t just work in mice.
Get the facts. A recent study suggests that people who drink a half or whole glass of red wine or another alcoholic beverage every day are 20 percent less likely to fracture a hip than those who don’t drink at all. What’s more, research from Tufts University found that older women who drank wine daily had stronger bones in their hips and spines than nondrinkers. The researchers suspect the anti-aging powers of wine’s resveratrol may be the reason why.
Before menopause, women have enough estrogen in their bodies to help them make bone faster than they lose it. But after menopause, estrogen levels drop. Lower estrogen levels cause bone-making cells to work more slowly than the cells that remove old bone, so you lose bone faster than you can make it. Even when your estrogen levels drop, resveratrol can help because it has estrogen-like powers. Research suggests these estrogen-like powers may help prevent bone loss in women after menopause — which is almost like an anti-aging treatment for your skeleton.
Heed the warnings. Resveratrol’s great study results don’t mean you should take up drinking or increase your number of drinks a day. After all, alcohol consumption automatically raises your risk of fracture-causing falls, breast cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver. So what should you do? If you don’t drink, don’t start. Instead, add more grape juice and grapes to your diet since these are good sources of resveratrol. Also, enjoy these other good sources — peanuts and peanut butter.
People at high risk for heart disease may benefit from red wine, but those with a family history of breast cancer or other health problem may be better off not drinking alcoholic beverages. Before you pour yourself a glass of wine, weigh your health risks and discuss them with your doctor, especially if you take prescription drugs.
- FC&A Staff Writer