New research suggests that a compound found in red wine can help improve mobility among seniors and prevent falls.
"Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our aging population. And that would, therefore, increase an aging person's quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalization due to slips and falls," said lead researcher Jane E. Cavanaugh, Ph.D.
For the study, researchers fed young and old mice a diet rich in resveratrol for eight weeks. The mobility of the mice was tested by making them walk on a steel mesh balance beam. Researchers calculated the number of times the mice faltered.
Researchers found that at the beginning of the study, the older mice had problems while navigating the course. But, by fourth week they were able to navigate better and with the speed of the young mice.
Researchers even tested how the compound works in the brain. For this, they exposed brain cells to high levels of dopamine, high levels of which can cause cell death. However, brain cells treated with resveratrol could withstand high levels of dopamine. They found that resveratrol absorbs the free radicals generated when dopamine breaks down, thus preventing cell damage. Also, resveratrol activates a protein synthesis pathway that helps cells survive.
The results are encouraging. However, there is a catch that the body doesn't readily absorb resveratrol. To get the required amount of resveratrol that could help mobility, a person has to drink 700 four-ounce glasses of red wine per day. This is why researchers are now focusing their attention on man-made compounds containing resveratrol that can be absorbed by the body. Also, researchers will be working on determining how much of the chemical actually reaches the brain.
According to CDC, more than $28 billion is spent every year on treating injuries related to falls in older adults in the U.S.
The study was presented at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.