Why bright-coloured fruit and vegetables are essential for healthy ageing
Why bright-coloured fruit and vegetables are essential for healthy ageing?
Plants contain vitamins, minerals and fibre which we know are essential for our health. But they also contain many other plant compounds that scientists are discovering are extremely valuable to our health in different ways.
What are Polyphenols?
Some foods are rich in polyphenols. These are metabolites which are produced by plants in response to a pathogenic attack or ultraviolet light. In other words, they act as a protective mechanism to the plant. Scientists are discovering that these compounds also have a very protective role in humans too.
How do polyphenols help protect against human diseases?
Most human diseases are driven by excess inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidation is a normal metabolic reaction from creating energy in the body. But we may trigger excess oxidation from sunlight, smoking, excess exercise, stress, burnt foods- to name a few.
Too much oxidation damages our cells and can create inflammation too.
When we think of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, there is an element of oxidation and inflammation. This also includes neurological disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Scientists have found that polyphenol compounds impair the progression of oxidation and inflammation in the human body. A study in Molecules magazine in 2021 found that polyphenols have a protective effect against these diseases, helping to delay the onset, and should be considered part of a primary care approach for long-term good health. This is over and above the benefits of other types of plant foods.
Interaction with Gut Microbiome
Not surprising to me is that other research has shown how polyphenol compounds selectively feed beneficial bacteria and these create beneficial metabolites. These help to keep the gut barrier robust, reduce gut inflammation and create an environment to nourish and support the growth of bacteria population that helps to keep disease at bay.
The term “postbiotic” was used – to describe the creation of these secondary metabolites from breaking down the polyphenols in the gut that have a beneficial effect.
Good health starts in the gut
When we think about health, we must consider the health of the gut. We cannot create a healthy environment if the gut health is impaired in any way.
Where can I find these polyphenols?
Polyphenols are naturally rich in bright-coloured fruit and vegetables. Some of the best sources are pomegranate, blueberries, cherries, apples, dark chocolate, green tea, red wine, onions, plums and black rice.
Aim to eat these in abundance, every day. Of course, don’t go crazy on the red wine! Or the chocolate! These fruits and vegetables are key components of my gut protocols. Do make sure you add these to your shopping basket every week.
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