It’s certainly not breaking news that fruits and veggies are good for you. But what exactly makes these plant-based foods so great for your health after all? The answer to that lies, at least in part, in a class of tiny compounds known as polyphenols.
In this blog post, we’re going to explore exactly what polyphenols are, what happens when you ingest them, the remarkable health benefits linked with upping your intake of these plant-based compounds, and the best way to get more of these nourishing nutrients in your life. Let’s dive in.
What Are Polyphenols?
The term polyphenols doesn’t refer to a singular compound, but rather a class of compounds that encompasses over 8,000 distinct health-boosting substances found in a variety of plant-based foods. Plants naturally produce polyphenols as secondary metabolites as a form of defense – shielding the plants against harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun as well as invading pathogens.
In general, polyphenols can be further broken down into 4 distinct groups which are:1
- Flavonoids: Such as quercetin, kaempferol, catechins, and anthocyanins
- Phenolic acids: Such as stilbenes and lignans
- Polyphenolic amides: Such as capsaicinoids and avenanthramides
- Other polyphenols: Such as resveratrol, ellagic acid, and curcumin
These thousands of different polyphenols may be microscopic plant compounds, but their impact on your health is anything but tiny.
What Do Polyphenols Do for Your Body?
When you consume polyphenols, these mighty molecules are absorbed and modified via a number of different pathways – like your intestinal enzymes, your gut microbes, and within your liver. From there, they are circulated throughout your body where they can then penetrate and accumulate within your tissues. Once these modified polyphenols reach your tissues, they begin working their magic in a process that goes something like this:2,3,4,5
- As your cells perform their regular, day-to-day processes, they create a steady stream of molecules known as free radicals or reactive oxygen species – highly unstable and reactive molecules that contain an unpaired electron.
- Now, free radicals are a normal and healthy byproduct of your cells. But if free radicals are left unchecked and their levels begin to rise, these unstable reactive molecules can begin stealing electrons from your healthy cells in an attempt to stabilize themselves.
- As electrons are stripped from your healthy cells, it can dramatically alter each cell’s structure and ability to function – causing damage known as oxidative stress. Over time, accumulated oxidative stress can lead to a wide variety of disease states from Alzheimer’s to autoimmunity and from cancer to cardiovascular disease.
- To stabilize these destructive free radicals your body both naturally produces as well as extracts from food, a type of molecule known as antioxidants.
- Antioxidants possess a unique and specific chemical structure that allows them to serve as electron donors – essentially donating one of their electrons to unstable molecules (like free radicals) so they can be neutralized.
- Polyphenols act as potent antioxidants, stabilizing harmful free radicals and pumping the brakes on cellular oxidative damage.
This remarkable ability is what allows polyphenols to exert their impressive health-boosting properties.
Health Benefits of Polyphenols
Just a handful of the health benefits that have been linked to increasing your polyphenol intake include:6,7,8,9
- A healthier, more balanced microbiome
- Better gut health and a stronger gut barrier
- Increased nutrient absorption and decreased sensitivity to foods
- A smarter, more balanced immune response
- Decreased risk of cancer and inhibition of cell proliferation in cancerous cells
- Protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Improved cognition and brain health
- Increased insulin sensitivity and more balanced blood sugars
- Amplified fat loss and decreased risk of obesity
- Enhanced longevity and potent anti-aging benefits
- Decreased risk of developing inflammation-mediated and age-related chronic diseases
Clearly, polyphenols can have a dramatically positive impact on just about every facet of your health. So how can you get more of these miraculous compounds in your life?
How Can I Get More Polyphenols? Foods Highest in Polyphenols?
When it comes to upping your polyphenol levels, variety is the name of the game. Consuming a variety of plant-based, whole foods on a daily basis is one of the best ways to increase your polyphenol intake. Here are some of the most polyphenol-rich foods to try incorporating into your diet:10
- Fruits: Like berries, currants, cherries, pomegranates, and plums
- Vegetables: Like artichokes, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and spinach
- Legumes: Like black beans, tempeh, and soy
- Nuts and seeds: Like almonds, hazelnuts, flax seeds, and walnuts
- Herbs and spices: Like basil, cinnamon, cumin, parsley, and rosemary
- Drinks: Like black tea, coffee, green tea, and red wine
- Cocoa products: Like cocoa powder and dark chocolate
While it’s ideal to get all of your polyphenols from whole food sources, the truth is, sometimes it can be challenging to get all the nutrients you need from your diet alone. So an easy solution is a high-quality polyphenol-containing supplement.
What About Supplements? What’s the Best Polyphenol Supplement?
Polyphenol supplements can absolutely be an easy way to optimize your intake of these crucial compounds. But it’s vital to ensure you’re taking the right kind. You see, studies have found that isolating polyphenols from food sources can be counterproductive – sometimes negating the beneficial effects of polyphenols or even making them harmful. So it’s crucial to ensure that any polyphenol supplement you take is whole food-based and sourced from organic plants.
When it comes to polyphenol supplements, you simply can’t beat the quality and potency found in BioImmersions High ORAC Synbiotic and No 7 Systemic Booster. Let’s break down what exactly makes them superior to any other polyphenol-rich supplement available on the market:
- High ORAC Synbiotic: This unique formula contains a rich complex of concentrated plant polyphenols sourced from whole plant foods like wild blueberries, cranberries, tart cherries, and prunes. These potent polyphenols are then combined with BioImmersion’s Super Blend of naturally occurring whole probiotics to help restore balance and optimal health to your gut and entire body – particularly after a round of antibiotics which can dramatically shift the delicate balance of your microbiome.
- No 7 Systemic Booster: This carefully calibrated supplement is chock-full of whole-food polyphenols sourced from plants like organic berries, apple extract, pineapple, beet, broccoli florets, and kale leaves. No 7 Systemic Booster also contains a concentrated dose of BioImmersion’s Super Blend of microbiome-supporting probiotics and prebiotics, as well as their vital nutraceuticals like Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Folate, and Chromium.
All of BioImmersions supplements are plant-based, organic, kosher, and free of gluten, dairy, and fillers. To learn more about BioImmersions remarkable polyphenol-boosting supplements and why we highly recommend their products, you’ve got to check out our webinar replay with Dr. Dohrea Bardell, Ph.D., Co-Founder, and Formulator over at BioImmersion (skip to 27:46 for more information on High ORAC Synbiotic and to 40:25 to get the details on No. 7 Systemic Booster).
Ready to Take Your Health to the Next Level?
Polyphenols are undeniably potent and play a pivotal role in preserving and promoting our health. And while we can certainly leverage these mighty molecules to enhance and optimize our health, at the end of the day, they are simply a tool in our tool belt. Whether you’re looking to manage or heal a chronic condition, bounce back after an illness or injury, or simply take your health to the next level, there’s no singular diet or supplement that’s going to be the missing link.
The path to true healing and vibrant health and well-being requires a big-picture approach. And if you’re looking for more ways you can support abundant health and well-being from the inside out, we’ve got you covered. We’ve got loads of helpful science-backed, easy-to-understand resources for you on our blog, on our podcast, and in our Professional Masterclasses to equip you with the knowledge you need to feel, look, and perform your very best.
And our online shop is full of top-of-the-line supplements that we love and trust – we only recommend the highest quality products with ample evidence to back up any claims they make. So, if you’re ready to experience the power of polyphenols and a well-rounded supplement regimen, be sure to snag 10% off your first order by clicking right here.
- 8 Foods High in Polyphenols and Why You Need Them (webmd.com)
- Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease (nih.gov)
- Antioxidants | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health – PMC (nih.gov)
- Foods | Free Full-Text | Dietary Regulation of Oxidative Stress in Chronic Metabolic Diseases (mdpi.com)
- Frontiers | Use of Polyphenols as Modulators of Food Allergies. From Chemistry to Biological Implications (frontiersin.org)
- Prebiotic effect of dietary polyphenols: A systematic review – ScienceDirect
- Effects of Polyphenols in Aging and Neurodegeneration Associated …: Ingenta Connect
- Antioxidants | Free Full-Text | Impact of Polyphenolic-Food on Longevity: An Elixir of Life. An Overview (mdpi.com)
- Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database – PubMed (nih.gov)