Polyphenols. Another reason to eat your plants.
Polyphenols fight disease and aging. Who’s not down with that?
What exactly are polyphenols? Polyphenols are phytochemicals, meaning they are created by plants. These are the chemicals that give foods their different and dark colors such as dark fruit and berries, grapes, coffee and one of my staples, raw cacao powder. Polyphenols are the reason that foods like blueberries, pomegranate seeds, and acai are often touted as ‘superfoods".
Scientists and doctors first noticed that people with polyphenol-rich diets generally had better health. Then they showed to also be great at fighting diseases including the big degenerative ones such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive decline.
So – foods rich in polyphenol, therefore hyper rich in anitoxidents, combat oxidative stress and inflammation – two major factors of disease.
Stress + inflammation >>> Aging + Dis-ease <<< Anxiety + Depression
The chemical compositions vary, but in a nutshell, here are the benefits via Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, ND IFMCP:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Promoting good heart health – Polyphenols are great for heart health. They even reduce your risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
6. Fighting cancer – Polyphenols can both reduce the risk of cancer and aid in treatment.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
In the land Twitter, then Instagram, one of my favorite hashtags is #plantsnotpills. In a world where people are now proving to be addicted to antidepressents, just published this April 2018 HERE in The New York Times, can we again please please now talk about plants? Please? Now?
Feeling lucky to have test-driven vegetarianism and veganism throughout most of my 20’s, I first learned a lot, both negatives and positives, about the effects of these styles of consumption on my body and mind - based on doing them well and not so well. Second, any way you look at it, a vegetarian or plant-based diet has a much higher chance of more plant and polyphenol consumption than the average diet.
Nutrition is a fledging science. So while we have figured out a lot, there will always be trends and shifts to come.
What we do know, is that we can 100% count on PLANTS to support a sound mind and healthy body.