Resveratrol is widely available, but more work is needed to see if it has the potential to help obesity and delay aging, the researchers pointed out.
The study was funded by Top Institute Food and Nutrition, which Schrauwen described as a nonprofit consortium of universities and the food industry in the Netherlands.
Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said "resveratrol, an antioxidant compound concentrated in grape skin -- and thus red wine -- had previously been shown in animal studies to influence gene expression in a manner closely resembling that of calorie restriction."
This change of gene behavior is not just about weight loss or even metabolic improvements; calorie restriction has long been associated with extending lifespan, he said.
"No study long enough has ever been done in humans to show this pertains to us -- but all the signs suggest that it should," Katz said.
Now a human study showing that resveratrol mimics effects of calorie restriction in men as well as mice is "stunning," he said.
"Of course, we do not know what the long-term effects of resveratrol supplementation in humans will be. Perhaps effects wear off with time. Perhaps adverse aspects of altered gene expression show up late. We have leapt before without looking carefully enough, and should proceed with caution and care," Katz said.
"But for now, we have the first clear evidence that a natural compound can exert the same profound effects on metabolism, weight and genes in humans," he explained.
"There is at least reason to hope a meaningful anti-aging effect could be appreciated as well," Katz said. "I rarely get excited by any one research paper. I am excited about this one."
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