The Role of Polyphenols in Your Gut Microbiome

Let’s talk polyphenols, a.k.a. the compounds found in plant-based foods that have been associated with a variety of health benefits, (a.k.a. you definitely want to talk about polyphenols!). 

Current research suggests polyphenols can support cardiovascular health and healthy aging. The impact of polyphenols on your overall health are complex, but emerging research shows their interaction with beneficial bacterial strains in the gut microbiome may play a significant role in how these dietary powerhouses help improve your health. 

So what exactly are polyphenols? 

Examples include flavonoids, phenolic acid, polyphenolic amides, resveratrol, curcumin, and lignans. As far as where to find these polyphenols, think plant-based foods such as berries, beans, oats, garlic, and spinach. That list isn’t comprehensive. In fact, over 8,000 different polyphenols have been identified to date, and each differs uniquely in function. 
What do polyphenols do in your body? 

Certain polyphenols are now understood to act as prebiotic sources for beneficial bacterial strains, specifically Akkermansia muciniphila, a keystone strain gaining recognition for its ability to fortify the protective mucin layer and improve gut barrier function. This means that the polyphenols help shape the environment of the gut microbiome to benefit good flora. Polyphenols found in grape seed (catechin), green tea (proanthocyanidins), and pomegranate (ellagic acid) have been shown to promote Akkermansia, supporting healthy levels of this important gut bacteria. Low levels or an absence of Akkermansia in the gut has been associated with poor health including obesity, autoimmune disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. Because of this discovery, strategies to increase depleted Akkermansia are gaining interest from the scientific and medical communities. 

Along with eating fermented and fiber-rich foods, polyphenols are another dietary component that can impact the health of your gut microbiome. Luckily, boosting your polyphenol intake is easy—you can eat a variety of plant-based foods as well as take high quality dietary supplements such as our Polyphenol Booster, available as an add-on to a probiotic membership. Continued research on polyphenols and the gut microbiome will provide more disease-specific applications, but for now we know this for certain: polyphenols are key to improving the overall health of your gut.

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