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You may not realize it, but human skin is a pretty complex organ. Not only that, but it’s also your body’s largest organ. 

Turns out, your skin is part of your integumentary system. This system also consists of your nerves, your hair, your nails, and your glands. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants that can go a long way towards helping your body fight off free radicals and other damage caused by oxidative stress.

Read on to learn all about the potential health benefits polyphenols may have on skin. 

What Are Polyphenols? 

 

Now, plant polyphenols are natural compounds found in plant‐based foods and beverages. Polyphenols are micronutrients that we get when we consume certain plant-based foods. Polyphenols are packed with antioxidants and full of possible health benefits. 

For instance, the following foods are chock full of good-for-you polyphenols:

  • Apples *
  • berries | Gundry MDBerries *
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Plums *
  • Broccoli
  • Cocoa
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Flaxseed
  • Chestnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Artichokes
  • Hazelnuts
  • Green tea
  • Red wine 1,2

* Consume these foods only when in-season and in moderation

In fact, a copious amount of research suggests there is quite a substantial bit of evidence that a diet high in phenolic compounds — consisting of foods like lectin-free vegetables and cocoa — might actually help you protect your body against certain heart health issues and even blood sugar regulation concerns.3 

But moreover, the antioxidant power of polyphenols might do quite a bit for your skin health, too.

How Can Polyphenols Antioxidant Properties Help To Support Skin Health?

skin cross section | Gundry MDHuman skin is composed of three different layers of skin tissue. They are as follows:

  • Epidermis — This is the outer layer of your skin. The epidermis gives you a waterproof barrier and is partially responsible for the tone of your skin.
  • Dermis — Your dermis can be found underneath your epidermis. It consists of your connective tissue, your hair follicles, the blood vessels, your lymphatic vessels, and even your sweat glands.
  • Hypodermis — This is your deeper subcutaneous tissue. It happens to consist of connective tissue and fat. 4 

But the antioxidants found in green tea extract and polyphenols like resveratrol or vitamin C could potentially help support your skin health and skin elasticity, as well as support your body’s defense against free radical damage. 5

 

UV Radiation, Oxidative Stress, And Human Skin: Know The Risks

It bears repeating that antioxidants can help to fight free radicals. What are free radicals exactly? Think of them like mini-robbers who take oxygen from your body’s cells and leave them puffed up and agitated. 

Again, polyphenols can go a long way to preventing sun-caused DNA damage or oxidative stress from bringing trouble to your healthy human skin cells. In this way, polyphenol antioxidants can help keep your skin looking healthier. 6> 

Turns out, UV radiation from the sun is linked to certain kinds of DNA damage in your skin cells — and this can happen even after the sun goes down. Scientists from all over the world have combined forces on research. They discovered that free radicals generated by uv radiation is linked to DNA damage that occurs even after irradiation stops.7

green tea | Gundry MD

But the polyphenols found in red wine, dark chocolate, along with green tea polyphenols, might make a difference in protecting your skin against ultraviolet radiation. Green tea polyphenols might even enhance your skin’s ability for strong cell growth. In other words, polyphenols could help prevent your skin from looking like it’s aging prematurely. 8

So, even though researchers have long-touted the health benefits of polyphenols in your favorite whole foods, it hasn’t been until recently that skincare professionals are beginning to maximize the positive effects.

Of course, protecting your skin is important. Not just because your skin is one of the first things people see, but it can also indicate your overall health status.

Are Polyphenols More Beneficial Alongside Other Nutrients? Vitamin C And Vitamin E Skin Care

vitamin skin serum | Gundry MDIf you really want to amp up the health-protecting power of polyphenols for your skin, it’s a good idea to combine your intake of polyphenols with other beneficial nutrients. For instance, vitamin C, A, D, and E work alongside resveratrol (found in dark chocolate or red wine) and other polyphenols like carotenoids, tocopherols, and flavonoids.

These combinations have been shown to support the antioxidant capabilities often relied on by skin care professionals. Though these agents can sometimes be applied topically, they can also be consumed by way of delicious plant foods, too. Oral dietary supplementation is another possible way to achieve a youthful look when it comes to your skin. 9

But the best way to fight the skin-aging effects of free radicals is to prevent them from even occurring in the first place. And as mentioned, consumption of polyphenols may help prevent oxidative stress — especially when combined with a healthy diet of antioxidative food and exercise. You’ll also find skin-healthy antioxidants in essential omega-3-fatty acids, certain types of protein, and even microbiota like lactobacilli.10

Types Of Polyphenols And Foods Containing Them: Resveratrol, Catechins, And More 

If you’re serious about protecting your skin, you have to start from the inside. That means consuming high-polyphenol foods. Look for foods with resveratrol foods, plant foods with catechins, and foods that may have flavonoids and other polyphenolic compounds. 

These foods are also great if you’re looking for foods that contain the polyphenol resveratrol:

Wine from Red Grapes: Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and in grape seeds. Plus, red grapes provide other nutrients like manganese and potassium. Just limit your intake to 6 oz per day.

Dark Chocolate: Resveratrol can be found in dark chocolate (72% or higher) along with good-for-you minerals like iron and manganese. Just make sure not to exceed 1 oz per day.

In-season Blueberries: Blueberries contain resveratrol and other good antioxidants, too. Plus, when you eat a handful of in-season blueberries you can cash in on the vitamin K and manganese content. 11But remember, these fruits are only to be consumed in moderations and only when in season. 

polyphenols benefits skin | Gundry MDIf you’re looking for high-catechin foods, look no further than the list below:

  • Red wine
  • Strawberries * 
  • Apples *
  • Blackberries *
  • Cherries *
  • Pears *
  • Raspberries *
  • Cocoa
  • Dark chocolate
  • Black tea 
  • Green tea 12

* Again, consume these foods only when in-season and in moderation

Don’t Forget Your Polyphenols

Hopefully, you’ll find the tips above helpful. Eating right should be considered an important part of your healthy skin regimen. Not only should you take comfort in eating right to protect your skin, but you’ll likely notice other benefits too.

 

Learn More:

Am I Deficient in Polyphenols? (5 signs you might be)

Secret Wrinkle Fighting Weapon: The Benefits of Polyphenols

Is Tea Healthier Than Coffee?

 

Sources:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5601283/
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21045839/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5601283/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441980/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/
7. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sun-damages-dna-in-skin-cells-long-after-exposure/
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/
11. https://www.livescience.com/39125-foods-good-sources-resveratrol.html
12. https://nutrition.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk426/files/content/infosheets/factsheets/fact-pro-catechins.pdf

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