We’ve discussed briefly, the power of polyphenols and their superpowers in improving athletic performance, among many of their many touted benefits.
Scientists and docs have noticed people with polyphenol-rich diets generally had better health. Studies have found polyphenols to be good at fighting diseases, and in particular, degenerative diseases. From cancer to heart disease, polyphenols play a crucial role in your overall and longterm health. In our latest sponsored blog, find out exactly how polyphenols work, where they can be found, and how they impact your health.
To your best health,
You’ve probably already heard of polyphenols before. You may know polyphenols are good for you, but you might not know exactly how or why. And if this is your first time hearing about polyphenols, you’re in for a treat.
Polyphenols are gaining attention because they fight disease and aging.
Scientists and doctors first noticed people with polyphenol-rich diets generally had better health. Then studies found polyphenols to be good at fighting diseases. In particular, polyphenols have proven to be very effective at fighting degenerative diseases, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive decline
In fact, it could be argued that polyphenols are the best natural, disease-fighting compounds on the planet. A bold statement, I know – but we continue to uncover the powerful antioxidant effects of polyphenols.
Polyphenols combat oxidative stress and inflammation – two major factors of disease.
No matter where you stand with your health today, whether you’re in tip-top shape or desperately looking for ways to turn your health around – polyphenols have extraordinary benefits for everyone.
What Are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are phytochemicals, meaning they are created by plants. These are the chemicals that give foods their different and dark colors – think berries, grapes, and coffee.
Polyphenols are the reason that foods like blueberries, pomegranate seeds, and acai are often touted as ‘superfoods.’ Polyphenols are also the chemical behind the argument that red wine is potentially good for your health. Though resveratrol (the polyphenol in red wine), exists in substantially lower numbers in wine than in the grapes themselves – not to be the bearer of bad news.
Polyphenols are differentiated from one another based on their chemical composition. They don’t always fit in perfect little categories, but can be generally be broken down as follows:
- Flavonoids – These bad boys are the most heavily studied and include over 6,000 different types. These give a lot of foods their bright colors that are found in nearly all fruits and vegetables.
- Tannins – Because tannins are such large molecules, scientists initially believed that they weren’t beneficial to the body. However, we’ve since learned that to be untrue. Some tannins have anti-carcinogenic and antimutagenic effects and are incredibly beneficial to human health.
- Phenolic acids – Phenolic acids are found in coffee, tea, cherries, and more. These polyphenols are known to be effective at fighting cancer and heart disease.
- Lignans – Lignans are primarily found in flax seeds, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These polyphenols have been shown to improve immune system health and hormone balance.
- Stilbenes – Stilbenes are the least common type of polyphenol, though this group includes resveratrol, which is found in red wine and grapes.
9 Benefits of Polyphenols
The reason polyphenols are so amazing is because they fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are like bullies on the playground, running around stealing everybody’s toys. Free radicals have an unpaired electron, which means they react readily with unsuspecting molecules, sometimes causing negative chain reactions.
Through preventing free radical damage in the body, polyphenols have many benefits, including:
- Reducing signs of aging – That’s right, polyphenols are anti-aging elements. Add polyphenols to your diet to reduce signs of aging outwardly and on a cellular level as well.
- Improving weight management Reducing signs of aging – Polyphenols have been shown in studies to support healthy weight management, this is probably due to its beneficial effects on the gut microbiome.
- Balancing blood sugar – Diets high in polyphenols help regulate blood sugar. Maintaining good blood sugar balance is especially important for anyone who is diabetic or pre-diabetic.
- Improving gut health – Your gut microbiome and polyphenols work together in a synergistic relationship. You need good gut health to use polyphenols effectively in the body but you also need plenty of polyphenols for your gut health to be in good shape.
- Promoting good heart health – Polyphenols are great for heart health. They even reduce your risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
- Fighting cancer – Polyphenols can both reduce the risk of cancer and aid in treatment.
- Combating cognitive decline – Polyphenols are very effective in combating cognitive decline. This is because polyphenols act on two mechanisms that contribute to cognitive decline in the body – oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Reducing oxidative stress – Oxidative stress is a major cause of illness. Reducing oxidative stress in the body is one of the reasons polyphenols are so great at fighting diseases.
- Reducing inflammation – Finally, we now know that inflammation is perhaps the biggest culprit behind most diseases. Reducing inflammation is another major factor that causes disease. So, it’s no wonder that when polyphenols reduce inflammation, they also reduce disease risk.
It’s undeniable that polyphenols have a number of benefits for our health, but I want to dig a little deeper in three areas I see polyphenols to be extremely beneficial. These include how polyphenols:
- Heal the gut
- Boost the brain
- Increase longevity
Polyphenols Heal Your Gut
Your gut microbiome is home to 100 trillion microbes that need to exist in a delicate balance to keep you happy and healthy. The good news is polyphenols can help do just that. Polyphenols have been shown in studies to tip microbial balance in your favor.
One benefit of some polyphenols are that they are hard for your stomach to digest. While that might sound like a bad thing, if we look a little closer we can see that it’s actually incredibly beneficial. Polyphenols that make it all the way to your colon can reach further into your digestive tract, helping to restore balance all along the way.
When your gut microbiome is balanced you’ll experience higher energy levels, less illness, improved moods, and better health overall. Let polyphenols support your beneficial bacteria so they can outcompete the bad guys and keep you healthy.
Polyphenols Boost Your Brain
When it comes to dementia oxidative stress and inflammation are two major contributing factors. Research has shown that polyphenols are extremely effective at fighting both of these disease-causing processes.
Dr. Dale Bredesen, the author of The End of Alzheimer’s, has found changes in diet to be one of the most effective tools in slowing or reversing cognitive decline. Focusing on reducing both oxidative stress and inflammation through diet is one of the best modifications that can be made for a dementia patient.
In his protocol for dementia patients, Dr. Bredesen specifically incorporates many polyphenols to repair what’s called – the 36 holes in the roof – or the 36 contributing factors, which create the perfect storm for Alzheimer’s development.
When you increase polyphenols in your diet, you are already taking steps against cognitive decline. Even if you’re young and haven’t considered the future of your mental health, polyphenols are an easy way to get a jump start boosting your brain.
Polyphenols Increase Longevity
It might seem like polyphenols couldn’t get much better, but they’re about to – polyphenols may increase longevity.
A 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition, found that high polyphenol intake increased longevity. In fact, there was a 30% reduction in mortality of older adults in this study. Over 12 years, 807 men and women over 65 years old were followed and their polyphenol intake measured. They concluded that total dietary polyphenol consumption could be used as a nutritional biomarker.
Because polyphenols are so powerful in fighting disease, it’s no surprise they may also increase longevity. We could use more studies on polyphenols of this nature, but what we already know is extremely promising!
5 Best Sources of Polyphenols
You’re probably wondering where you can get more polyphenols in your diet right about now. So, without further ado, here are the 5 best sources of polyphenols.
- Coffee – Coffee is a huge source of polyphenols for many people. It’s likely that for most people on the Standard American Diet, coffee is THE biggest source of polyphenols.
- Raw cacao powder – Cocoa powder is absolutely jam-packed with polyphenols. However, don’t mistake cacao for cocoa. It’s important to get cacao in its raw form because there’s so many active elements – consider cacao to be the ‘live’ form. Cocoa has been roasted at high temperatures, which damages a lot of the beneficial components.
- Berries – Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, elderberries, and raspberries are excellent sources of polyphenols.
- Dark fruit – Remember, polyphenols are often what gives fruit and vegetables their dark colors. With that in mind, dark fruits like plums, pomegranates, and acai are also extremely high in polyphenols.
- Atrantil – Atrantil is not a food but a botanical supplement designed to support smooth digestion. Atrantil has three polyphenol containing elements – quebracho, peppermint, and horse chestnut. The various beneficial components of polyphenols are exactly why these three ingredients were included in Atrantil. Quebracho specifically, is one of the best sources of the world’s most stable polyphenol.
One of the best parts about incorporating more polyphenols into your diet is – it’s delicious and easy. So, go ahead – enjoy that extra cup of coffee or add a spoonful of cacao powder to your favorite smoothie. There’s no need to wait until you get older or get sick – the power of polyphenols in your life can start now!
Bredesen, D. (2017). The end of Alzheimer’s. London: Vermilion.
Ken Brown, MD Biography
Dr. Ken Brown received his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical School, and completed his fellowship in Gastroenterology in San Antonio Texas. He is a board certified gastroenterologist and has been in practice for over 15 years with a clinical focus on inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Brown has declared that his mission is to bridge the gap between medical & natural science.
For over a decade he has been conducting clinical research for various pharmacologic companies. Dr. Brown recognized an unmet need for something natural that could help his IBS patients find real relief. After developing the only all-natural & clinically proven answer for IBS & bloating for over 6 years, ATRANTIL (ahh-tron-teel) launched in the summer of 2015. Dr. Brown and his research team developed Atrantil with the intent of helping those suffering from the symptoms of IBS which we now know are caused by bacterial overgrowth.
Dr. KF SPONSORED CONTENT
I am eternally grateful to our sponsors who, by blogging, podcasting and advertising with us, enable me and my team to devote energy and time to writing and publication. All the companies who sponsor us are companies that I trust for myself and my patients and use regularly in my clinical practice. Please check out their websites! – Dr. KF