Polyphenols may generate numerous health benefits by modulating the gut microbiota (GM). Phytochemicals that can influence GM have recently been studied as adjuvants to support healthy weight and inflammatory response. These phytochemicals include polyphenols and their derivatives, carotenoids, and thiosulfates, which were “further sub-classified into four main groups: flavonoids (including eight subgroups), phenolic acids (such as curcumin), stilbenoids (such as resveratrol), and lignans.”
“An imbalance of GM, or dysbiosis, can be the cause of, or at least lead to the progression of several pathologies such as infectious diseases, gastrointestinal cancers, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and even obesity and diabetes.” Of the phytochemicals ingested, 90-95% “reach the colon in high concentrations, where they are degraded by the microbial enzymes prior to absorption.
Joining the ranks of prebiotics and probiotics, polyphenols are now attracting interest in the media and the research community as potential therapeutic agents in supporting health weight management. Proposed mechanisms of actions include “inhibition of the differentiation of adipocytes, increased fatty acid oxidation, decreased fatty acid synthesis, increased thermogenesis, the facilitation of energy metabolism and weight management, and the inhibition of digestive enzymes.
As promising as this is, more research is required to determine [the] role of micronutrients and phytochemicals as therapeutic agents in modulating the GM, and, therefore, influencing weight management and the inflammatory response.
If you read the current (and all past editions) Guyton’s Physiology it states that the “role of the colon is to reabsorb water to create a formed stool.” We now understand that colon has many roles, the least of which is to create a formed stool.
Although our digestion ends in the small intestine, microbial digestion hasn’t started yet. The probiota of the large intestine break down soluble fiber (prebiotics) creating a vast array of phytochemicals essential to our health (and theirs).
The reductionist slant to science wants to identify each and every phytochemical and how it functions in the body. So, we have sub-classification and sub-groups within that sub-classification. This is necessary research to create evidenced-based data in support of nutrition. However, the main goal is to chemically manufacture drugs that mimic these natural compounds.
I prefer to just look at the food. Most vegetables contain flavonoids. They impart the colors red, yellow and orange to many foods. Phenolic acids are common to several foods including tea, coffee, blueberries, plums, cherries and apples. The stilbenoids are found in grapes, berries and wine. Lignans are also found in many foods but are highest in seeds like flax and sunflower, and the whole grains.
The Bottom Line:
Healthy weight starts with eating healthy food. You don’t have to supplement resveratrol, you can eat some grapes or even have a glass of red wine. It is, however, important to note the ever increasing role of the microbiota in human health.
Source: April 5, 2018, Biotics Research Corporation