What are Polyphenols? Our Functional Medicine Toronto Clinic Answers

At our functional medicine Toronto practice, it’s not uncommon for us to recommend polyphenols to patients. After all, these compounds are connected to a wide variety of health benefits!

So, what exactly are polyphenols? These are plant-based molecules with antioxidant properties. As antioxidants, they’re able to nullify free radicals that are known to trigger cellular damage. 

Scientists are aware of the importance of polyphenols – especially how these compounds can aid in preventing chronic disease – through countless studies: “The chief reason for this interest is the recognition of the antioxidant properties of polyphenols, their great abundance in our diet, and their probable role in the prevention of various diseases associated with oxidative stress, such as cancer and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases,” explains an article from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

In this blog post, we highlight how these compounds can benefit your health status:

  • They might offer cognitive improvements: Polyphenols are naturally formed in concord grape juice. In one study, participants were given this juice and verbal learning was significantly enhanced. “These preliminary findings suggest that supplementation…may enhance cognitive function for older adults with early memory decline …” says an article from the British Journal of Nutrition
  • Contains anti-inflammatory functions: Oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation. But according to an article from Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, clear, evidence-based information has shown that polyphenols can tackle oxidative stress, which might help manage “… different inflammatory mediators such as metabolites derived from arachidonic acid, various peptides, excitatory amino acids, and cytokines.”
  • May have the potential to improve cardiovascular health: Further research is necessary, though polyphenols might minimize your risks for heart disease. Scientists deem that Inflammation is a contributing factor for cardiovascular health issues, and polyphenols are already naturally anti-inflammatory. 
  • Shows promise in managing blood sugar levels: Polyphenols could contribute to lessening your risk for type II diabetes. The plant compounds might counteract starch from breaking down into sugars, which could minimize blood sugar spikes. Also, polyphenols might activate insulin secretion, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Could contribute to cancer prevention: Scientists are attempting to understand the significance of polyphenols as “potential candidates for the discovery of anticancer drugs,” explains a Nutrients article. So far, some research has suggested that polyphenols “…can exert anticancer effects through a broad range of mechanisms, that includes cancer cell removal by modification of signaling pathways, inhibition of cell cycle events, and apoptosis induction,” confirms a Translational Cancer Research piece.  

Taking polyphenols for optimal function

Truly, polyphenols can offer enrichment to our long-term health. So how can they be consumed? At our Toronto practice, a functional medicine practitioner can guide you on adding them to your diet and/or supplemental regime. Some foods known to be rich in polyphenols include: berries, olive oil, black currants, beans, spinach, black and green tea, and nuts. Note: some polyphenol supplements might interact or impede on iron and folate absorption. Our healthcare providers can help determine if polyphenol supplements are suited for you using the functional medicine model. Continue reading to learn how to book your first session. 

About our clinical practice 

Rallying optimal function for our daily lives can be challenging – and we recognize this. We address each patient as a unique entity, so your medical history, lifestyle and environmental factors are considered for tackling the root of your health conditions. Our clinical care may be applied to a wide range of health concerns, such as: digestive issues, infertility, acid reflux, sexual health, sleep issues, body aches, chronic symptoms, celiac disease, and other concerns. Functional medicine testing is also available to identify nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and more.

Our patient care embraces integrative medicine, which combines different therapies to support optimal health. Our patients can access allopathic treatments (Western medicine), Traditional Chinese Medicine, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, IV therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and other modalities. 

Unlock your potential with our integrative approaches to health! Become a new functional medicine Toronto patient today – click here to request a session with us. 

Suggested Reading: 8 Facts About Mold Toxicity for Functional Medicine Toronto Patients

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.

References:

Bhosale, P., Ha, S., Vetrivel, P., Kim, H., Kim, S., & Kim, G. (2020). Functions of polyphenols and its anticancer properties in biomedical research: a narrative review. Translational Cancer Research, 9(12), 7619-7631. doi:10.21037/tcr-20-2359

Claudine Manach, Augustin Scalbert, Christine Morand, Christian Rémésy, Liliana Jiménez, Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 79, Issue 5, May 2004, Pages 727–747, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/79.5.727

Hussain T, Tan B, Yin Y, Blachier F, Tossou MC, Rahu N. Oxidative Stress and Inflammation: What Polyphenols Can Do for Us? Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:7432797. doi: 10.1155/2016/7432797. Epub 2016 Sep 22. PMID: 27738491; PMCID: PMC5055983.

Kim Y, Keogh JB, Clifton PM. Polyphenols and Glycemic Control. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 5;8(1):17. doi: 10.3390/nu8010017. PMID: 26742071; PMCID: PMC4728631.

Krikorian R, Nash TA, Shidler MD, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Concord grape juice supplementation improves memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Br J Nutr. 2010 Mar;103(5):730-4. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509992364. Epub 2009 Dec 23. PMID: 20028599.

McCullough ML, Peterson JJ, Patel R, Jacques PF, Shah R, Dwyer JT. Flavonoid intake and cardiovascular disease mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb;95(2):454-64. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.016634. Epub 2012 Jan 4. PMID: 22218162; PMCID: PMC3260072.

Mennen LI, Walker R, Bennetau-Pelissero C, Scalbert A. Risks and safety of polyphenol consumption. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1 Suppl):326S-329S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/81.1.326S. PMID: 15640498.

Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009 Nov-Dec;2(5):270-8. doi: 10.4161/oxim.2.5.9498. PMID: 20716914; PMCID: PMC2835915.

Pham-Huy LA, He H, Pham-Huy C. Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. Int J Biomed Sci. 2008 Jun;4(2):89-96. PMID: 23675073; PMCID: PMC3614697.

Potì F, Santi D, Spaggiari G, Zimetti F, Zanotti I. Polyphenol Health Effects on Cardiovascular and Neurodegenerative Disorders: A Review and Meta-Analysis. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jan 16;20(2):351. doi: 10.3390/ijms20020351. PMID: 30654461; PMCID: PMC6359281.

Rudrapal M, Khairnar SJ, Khan J, Dukhyil AB, Ansari MA, Alomary MN, Alshabrmi FM, Palai S, Deb PK, Devi R. Dietary Polyphenols and Their Role in Oxidative Stress-Induced Human Diseases: Insights Into Protective Effects, Antioxidant Potentials and Mechanism(s) of Action. Front Pharmacol. 2022 Feb 14;13:806470. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.806470. PMID: 35237163; PMCID: PMC8882865.

Singh A, Yau YF, Leung KS, El-Nezami H, Lee JC-Y. Interaction of Polyphenols as Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Compounds in Brain–Liver–Gut Axis. Antioxidants. 2020; 9(8):669. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9080669

What Are Polyphenols? Types, Benefits, and Food Sources” from Healthline, by Alina Petre, MS, RD (NL) on July 8, 2019, viewed on January 21, 2023. 

Zhou Y, Zheng J, Li Y, Xu DP, Li S, Chen YM, Li HB. Natural Polyphenols for Prevention and Treatment of Cancer. Nutrients. 2016 Aug 22;8(8):515. doi: 10.3390/nu8080515. PMID: 27556486; PMCID: PMC4997428.