What do red wine, dark chocolate, green tea, and extra virgin olive oil all have in common? They all contain polyphenols. This powerful group of plant-based nutrients is getting more and more attention than ever from top researchers and scientists around the world, and for good reason: the list of health benefits they seem to provide just keeps growing longer. That said, for all their amazing benefits, they don’t seem to get much mainstream credit yet. Just wait until TikTok gets a hold of polyphenols!
First, what are polyphenols?
They are plant-derived, bioactive compounds found naturally in fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. These micronutrients are what give the plants their beautiful, bright colors. Those vivid purples, reds, and greens seen in blueberries, raspberries, pomegranates, and green matcha are signs that those foods are rich in polyphenols. It’s the resveratrol in red grapes that makes scientists suspect red wine is superior to white, and the flavonoids in dark chocolate that make it the healthier choice over milk–both are examples of polyphenols.
Skin benefits you might expect to see as a result of adding polyphenols to your diet…
Brighter, more even-looking skin
Smoother skin with reduced fine lines and wrinkles
Improved blood flow to the skin, which carries oxygen and nutrients to keep skin cells thriving, while carrying away waste products created by daily stressors
Boosted protection against sunburns and UV damage to skin (when used with SPF!)
A healthy microbiome balance
A better supported gut barrier function, which can promote healthy skin
Some studies have also shown that polyphenols have been linked with impressive health benefits including lowering blood sugar, and supporting heart health. But I’m going to focus here on the groundbreaking research showing that polyphenols are linked to skin benefits.
Years ago, we used to believe that polyphenols mainly acted as antioxidants, capable of neutralizing free radicals and dialing down oxidative stress, thereby protecting cells and DNA from damage. Well, if you get excited by scientific breakthroughs, like we do, hold onto your pocket protectors! New science is showing that’s actually NOT the primary way that they work in the human body.
Science is showing us that dietary polyphenols actually have a profound effect on our gut microbiome, and in turn they offer significant health benefits in our gut, throughout our body, and specifically in our skin. So polyphenols are antioxidants, but the main way they affect our health is by acting as PREBIOTICS!
New science is showing that polyphenols can support three things:
(1) Help to re-balance our gut microbiome. Balancing our gut microbiome is key to gut health and skin health. Polyphenols feed our gut bacteria, basically helping to nourish our gut microbiome. But unlike some other forms of prebiotics, polyphenols don’t just feed all the bacteria. They specifically feed the good ones, and even suppress the growth of unhealthy bacteria, thereby re-balancing the gut microbiome for the better. That’s why I call polyphenols “smart” prebiotics, because they are selective in their action to support certain strains of bacteria.
(2) Stimulate the production of postbiotics. When the good bacteria in our gut eat the polyphenols, they metabolize these polyphenols and create postbiotics. These postbiotics are able to promote health throughout the body, including our skin.
(3) Helps to reduce inflammation. When the balance of bacteria is restored, combined with the production and release of gut-healing postbiotics, our gut lining can go from being inflamed to being healthy. When your gut barrier is healthy, not only do you have less inflammation throughout your body and your skin, but you can actually absorb more nutrients from your healthy diet, and benefit even more from any other supplements you’re taking.
The best polyphenols for your skin health.
First and foremost, diversity is key. Get your polyphenols from a variety of sources. When you hear a physician or nutritionist say “eat the rainbow,” they’re basically referring to getting a variety of plant-based polyphenols. For example, eating one bowl of blueberries isn’t as beneficial for your gut or your skin as eating the same sized bowl of mixed berries. Think about every polyphenol you eat as feeding a different species of good bacteria in your gut. The more polyphenols you eat, the more good microbes you are feeding. So diversity in your polyphenols translates into diversity of your microbiome. Experts agree this is one of the most impactful things you can do for your health. Some of my favorite sources of polyphenols follow.
Blackberries; blueberries; black currants; raspberries; cranberries; grapes: (especially the skin and seeds); pomegranate; lemon
Artichoke; spinach; red onion; chicory
Hazelnuts; walnuts; almonds; pecans
Other Good Sources of Polyphenols:
Coffee; black tea; green tea; red wine; cocoa and dark chocolate; olive oil
When to consider a polyphenol supplement and what to look for:
You’ll notice that fruits are at the top of my list in terms of rich sources of polyphenols. I love eating fruits, and believe strongly that they are part of a balanced, healthy and nutritious lifestyle. However, if you want to reach a level of dietary polyphenols that has a meaningful impact on the skin through fruit, the sugar content of all of this fruit can add up. It’s also just much more than most people would eat in a day. So what’s the most accessible way to get the quantity and diversity of fruit-based polyphenols your skin craves every day? That’s where smart supplementation comes in.
We designed one bottle of Bowe Growe™ Water-Enhancing Elixir to deliver all the plant-based polyphenol goodness your skin craves, without the downsides.†
One bottle of Bowe Growe™, which is created to last your a month with daily use, has a diverse blend of plant-based polyphenols that would be the equivalent of eating approximately:
3 cups of blueberries
7 cups of black currants
2.5 cups of cranberries
1.5 cups of blackberries
A bunch of grapes
So why sip on Bowe Growe™ in addition to eating your fruits and veggies each day?
Diversity: It’s just hard to get that kind of diversity into your diet every single day.
Dose: It’s also virtually impossible to get the therapeutic doses of polyphenols that are studied to deliver skin benefits through eating foods alone.
Digestion: Some people just can’t load up on large quantities of fruits and veggies every day without having some stomach upset, bloating, or digestive problems.
In terms of sugar – and again, eating fruits is such a valuable part of your healthy diet – eating the amount of fruit to equal Bowe Glowe™ would deliver a whopping 400 GRAMS of sugar over a month, or between 10-20 grams per day. By sipping on Bowe Growe™ instead, you’re getting all the benefits of a diverse rainbow of fruit polyphenols without the cons.† That’s a compelling reason to eat your veggies but sip on your Bowe Growe™ for the sake of your skin.*
We could go on-and-on about the skin and gut-health benefits of polyphenol. We’re clearly a little obsessed, and you may be too if you made it to the end of this post. Keep a look out for this ingredient, your skin will thank you.
Get ready to apply and drink your skincare!