Polyphenols For Gut Health & Skin Health

To read what Dr Jason Hawrelak - world-renowned microbiome expert, gastrointestinal specialist and author of over 60 research papers dedicated to gut health says about about polyphenols - see below.


Polyphenols are an excellent addition to your diet for your gut health as they increase good bacteria and decrease bad bacteria.


Polyphenols have been recognised for their potential benefits for skin health, including anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, and photo-protective effects.



 What Are Polyphenols?


Polyphenols are a diverse group of phytochemicals found in plant-based foods. They are characterized by the presence of multiple phenol groups and are known for their antioxidant properties. According to scientific literature, polyphenols have been extensively studied for their potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and cardioprotective effects.


There is evidence that phenolic substances act as antioxidants by preventing the oxidation of LDL-lipoprotein, platelet aggregation, and damage of red blood cells. (Chevnier V. 2005)


The beneficial effects of polyphenols are mainly attributed to their antioxidant properties, since they can act as chain breakers or radical scavengers depending on their chemical structures. (Rice-Evans, 2011)


They are classified into several groups according to their diverse chemical structures. Flavonoids, lignans, stilbenes, and phenolic acids are the four main families of polyphenols.


Gut Health Benefits of Polyphenols


Polyphenols have been shown to have a positive impact on gut health as they are broken down by your gut bacteria into metabolites that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria.


Furthermore, polyphenols have been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties in the gut, helping to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are associated with various gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Research studies have also suggested that polyphenols may help improve gut barrier function, which plays a crucial role in preventing the passage of harmful substances from the gut into the bloodstream, thereby reducing the risk of systemic inflammation and related health conditions.


Obesity is associated with an imbalance of micro-and macro-nutrients, gut dysbiosis, and a "leaky" gut phenomenon. Polyphenols, such as curcumin, resveratrol, and anthocyanins may alleviate the systemic effects of obesity, potentially by improving gut microbiota, intestinal barrier integrity (IBI), and zinc homeostasis. (Islam, T. 2023)


Skin Health Benefits of Polyphenols


Polyphenols have been recognized for their potential benefits for skin health, including anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, and photoprotective effects. Studies have shown that polyphenols can help protect the skin from UV-induced damage by scavenging free radicals and reducing oxidative stress.


Additionally, polyphenols have been found to promote collagen synthesis and inhibit enzymes that degrade collagen and elastin, which are essential proteins for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. This can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, contributing to a more youthful and radiant complexion.


Moreover, polyphenols have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. By reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the skin, polyphenols may help improve overall skin health and appearance.



Polyphenol-rich foods include:


  1. Cloves
  2. Peppermint
  3. Star anise
  4. Cocoa powder
  5. Mexican oregano
  6. Celery seed
  7. Black chokeberry
  8. Dark chocolate
  9. Flaxseed meal
  10. Black elderberry
  11. Chestnut
  12. Blackcurrant
  13. Hazelnut
  14. Pecan
  15. Artichoke heads
  16. Blackberry
  17. Strawberry
  18. Red raspberry
  19. Blueberry
  20. Plum
  21. Cherry
  22. Black grape
  23. Red wine
  24. Green tea
  25. Black tea
  26. Coffee
  27. Olive oil
  28. Capers
  29. Soybean
  30. Red onion
  31. Spinach
  32. Kale
  33. Broccoli
  34. Red cabbage
  35. Red chicory
  36. Spinach
  37. Lettuce
  38. Onion
  39. Leek
  40. Asparagus
  41. Red pepper
  42. Celery
  43. Potato
  44. Carrot
  45. Tomato
  46. Apple
  47. Pear
  48. Orange
  49. Lemon
  50. Grapefruit




Please note that the polyphenol content can vary depending on factors such as the variety of the food, growing conditions, and preparation methods.



In conclusion, polyphenols are bioactive compounds found in plant-based foods that offer a wide range of health benefits, including promoting gut health and skin health. Incorporating polyphenol-rich foods into your diet can be a valuable strategy for supporting overall health and wellbeing.





"Ari: Let’s let’s talk about how to some practical specifics on how to optimize the microbiome ecosystem, how to reduce levels of LPs and how to increase levels of you mentioned already kind of at a in this in this case of polyphenols and you’re both in a how to optimize that consume more of the polyphenols that feed those microbes that produce those post biotic metabolites. But how do we reduce levels of LPs and how do we increase levels of butyrate producing species, which, as you emphasize, is very important?

Dr. Hawrelak: Yeah. And I think the probably the the biggest takeaway is eat mostly plants, high fibre, nothing processed and processed whole foods that contain a wide diversity of fibre types and colours of the polyphenols that’s that we do all of that with a dye like that you’ll feed be very pleasing species, you’ll lower LP levels in the gut and you will have enough polyphenols to to nurture those species. That’s like the big answer. I think there are some specific things like, you know, with similar ideas here though, because I mean, one of the key bright producing species is fecal bacterium. It likes eating polyphenols as well."


Extract from The Energy Blueprint Podcast - where Ari Whitten speaks with Dr Jason Hawrelak - world-renowned microbiome expert, gastrointestinal specialist and author of over 60 research papers dedicated to gut health.

Access the full podcast HERE




Cheynier V. Polyphenols in foods are more complex than often thought. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1 Suppl):223S-229S.


Islam T, Albracht-Schulte K, Ramalingam L, Schlabritz-Lutsevich N, Park OH, Zabet-Moghaddam M, Kalupahana NS, Moustaid-Moussa N. Anti-inflammatory mechanisms of polyphenols in adipose tissue: role of gut microbiota, intestinal barrier integrity and zinc homeostasis. J Nutr Biochem. 2023 May;115:109242.


Manach, C., Morand, C. & Crespy, V. (1998). Quercetin is recovered in human plasma as conjugated derivatives which retain antioxidant properties. FEBS Letters,  426,  331336.


Rana A, Samtiya M, Dhewa T, Mishra V, Aluko RE. Health benefits of polyphenols: A concise review. J Food Biochem. 2022 Oct;46(10):e14264.


Rice-Evans C. Flavonoid antioxidants. Curr Med Chem. 2001 Jun;8(7):797-807.