Jasper Most Jasper Most Sacha Ruland Fotografie

Beneficial effect of red wine and green tea

In Body
Written by  Nicole Kluijtmans Monday, 25 January 2016 12:55

Nutritional supplements containing ingredients found in red wine and green tea have a beneficial effect on the metabolism. People who take supplements that contain these so-called polyphenols burn more fats than sugars. 'This is a promising development for people with a metabolic imbalance, such as chronically ill or bedridden people,’ says human biologist Jasper Most. Most recently he obtained his PhD at Maastricht University for his research on the effect of nutritional supplements that contain this new combination of polyphenols.

Previous studies have already demonstrated the metabolic effect of polyphenols. However, the combination of polyphenols in red wine and green tea had never been researched. 'We wanted to develop nutritional supplements that would reduce the risk of diabetes in overweight people. Unfortunately, we did not notice any significant changes to the key factors that cause diabetes. Insulin sensitivity, for example, remained unchanged,' says the researcher.

No weight loss
Further research should reveal the long-term effects of nutritional supplements in people with a metabolic imbalance, such as elderly people, people with a sedentary lifestyle and people who are bedridden due to illness. 'The supplements do not cause weight loss. At least, we couldn't demonstrate that the test subjects, who took the supplements for twelve weeks, lost any adipose tissue. We also failed to see a reduction in the amount of fat stored by the body. What we did find is a metabolic shift from sugar-burning to fat-burning, which is a promising development. If we can improve energy production, we might be able to reduce the risk of diabetes in the long term. But this would require additional research.'

The body gets sugar from food, but these sugars are also produced by the liver or drawn from the body's own sugar stores in the form of glycogen. These sugars are a source of quick energy. Our brain, nerve cells and blood cells all convert sugar (glucose) into energy. This process is meant to peak in times of stress. Our muscles use this energy source to help us run or sprint, for example. Adipose tissue is largely a resting energy source that is tapped during sleep or periods of fasting or low-impact exercise. Weight gain is the result of more fats being stored than burned.

Insulin sensitivity unchanged
The hormone insulin ensures that glucose from food can be absorbed by the cells via the blood. Diabetics make little to no insulin, which wreaks havoc on blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance happens when the cells no longer respond to insulin. Most had hoped that his nutritional supplements based on red wine and green tea would reactivate this response or improve insulin sensitivity. Unfortunately, this was not the case. But he still considers his study a success.

'Red wine and green tea are not miracle workers and never will be, in my opinion. Those hoping to lose weight shouldn't start consuming vast amounts of these products. We used concentrated polyphenols derived from a plan known as the Japanese knotweed. Producing a single capsule would require the equivalent of the polyphenols in three cups of tea and ten to fifteen litres of red wine. Our test subjects, which included men and women who were slightly to seriously overweight, received two capsules per day over the course of twelve weeks. '
One happy coincidence of this study is that it demonstrates a relationship between the composition of intestinal flora and health. The composition of intestinal flora may provide us with new insights into insulin sensitivity. These bacteria may also influence the effectiveness of nutritional supplements, which could be used in the future to prevent insulin resistance. More targeted research on intestinal flora is required to generate more conclusive results.

Intestinal flora and energy
'Intestinal flora develops at birth and remains relatively stable throughout one's lifetime. Knowing the importance of the composition of intestinal flora gives us a new research perspective. Examining the bacteria found in faecal matter is much less invasive for test subjects, certainly compared to the current methods used to test energy use, which involve placing a hood over the participant's head to measure exhalations. These gasses and the amount of oxygen and nitrogen they contain tell us a lot about energy consumption. It tells us how much is being used and which energy sources are being tapped.' 

According to Most, extensive research is needed to determine the effect of polyphenols. Whether and when this research will begin remains unclear. If it does, the researcher will not be involved. 'I'm going to spend the next three years conducting research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, where I'll be studying nutrition and weight gain. I'm currently involved in a long-term research study on the advantages of sports and dieting. I also plan to participate in a study on the relationship between weight gain and diet during pregnancy. What is the ideal weight for pregnant women and what health implications does diet have on the baby?’

Jasper Most received his PhD from the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences on 15 January. The full title of his dissertation is: 'Dietary polyphenols: modulators of energy and substrate metabolism in obese humans'

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