Caloric Restriction (CR) is the only proven method of increasing life span in numerous and diverse species,
from yeast, worms, fruit flies, spiders, rodents, all the way up to primates. Calorie restriction refers to an
approximately 40% reduction in caloric intake, usually accompanied by a maintenance level of nutrients.
The institutions that have conducted this research include Cornell and Harvard University, as well as the
prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - testimony to the credibility behind Caloric
Restriction. This research has branched out to encompass the study of 'caloric restriction mimetics'. These
are compounds that enable organisms to parallel many of the beneficial biological effects of a caloric
restriction diet, and among the most prominent of these is a substance known as resveratrol. Resveratrol is
a naturally occurring polyphenolic compound found in various berries (cranberry, blueberry, grapes),
peanuts, rhubarb and a number of oriental herbs including the Japanese Giant Knotweed (Polygunum
cuspidatum). Studies with resveratrol have reported a diverse range of physiological and biochemical
effects, particularly in the areas of heart health, cancer, immunity and inflammation. Other beneficial
cardiovascular effects include the reduction of cholesterol and triglycerides, dilation of blood vessels (hence
a blood pressure lowering effect), platelets being less "sticky" (anti-aggregatory effect) - and consequently
a lower incidence of atheroma or plaque formation and a reduced rate of strokes and heart attacks.
Resveratrol exerts anti-oxidant effects by quenching free radicals that act as cellular terrorists, reducing the
oxidation of LDL particles, which many believe to be the initiating event in atherosclerosis or hardening of
the arteries. Resveratrol also inhibits unfavourable cellular proliferation and up-regulates apoptosis or
programmed cell death.
The plants that produce resveratrol do so as a response to stressors such as fungal infection or ultra violet