Polyphenols are a group of over 500 phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring organic compounds produced in plants, that can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Consumption of polyphenols has been reported to improve and help manage digestive disorders, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative conditions, and cardiovascular diseases.
In recent decades, a great deal of research has focused on a polyphenol called resveratrol that is found in over 70 plant species (most notably in the skins of red grapes) and of varying amounts in tea, pomegranates, nuts, dark chocolate, and many berries. However, because the body quickly metabolizes resveratrol, it’s generally taken in supplement form in order to achieve a dose high enough to provide a therapeutic effect.
A 2017 study reported that resveratrol can increase insulin sensitivity and improve blood glucose control, which may reduce the risk for diabetes and help type 2 diabetics manage their disease. It also improves blood vessel flexibility, which can help control hypertension or high blood pressure. A 2020 study reported that elderly women who took resveratrol experienced improved blood flow in the brain, which improved cognitive function.
Is resveratrol something that every adult should take as part of a healthier lifestyle? Unfortunately, no. As more studies are conducted on resveratrol, some adverse effects and interactions have come to light. A 2020 study reported that like many antioxidants, resveratrol can have a pro-oxidant effect in some situations, which could in theory have negative consequences, although human volunteers in resveratrol studies have not reported serious issues or side effects. Taking resveratrol prior to exercise may counteract some of the health benefits associated with physical activity. Other reported side effects can include diarrhea, nausea, itchy bottom, and allergic reactions. There have been some anecdotal reports of tendonitis such as ankle pain, swelling, and tennis elbow, although this side-effect is difficult to find in scientific literature.
Importantly, resveratrol has been observed to interact with the anti-blood clotting medication warfarin, which can result in unexpected anticoagulation and potential bleeding. Hence, it’s important that anyone taking resveratrol supplements should consult with a pharmacist to check for potential drug interactions.
As with any vitamin or supplement, inform yourself on the potential risks and benefits before deciding on adding them to your health regimen. With resveratrol, there are clearly a lot of health benefits to be obtained, but there are some individuals who should avoid its use. Your doctor of chiropractic can assist you when making decisions about a healthy diet and natural anti-inflammatory approaches for maintaining health and reducing the risk for chronic diseases that can interfere with your quality of life.