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How Polyphenols Can Help Solve the UK’s Chronic Health Woes

Each year, chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease kill 157,000 Britons. Those who continue living with a chronic disease often face significant impacts on quality of life, individual earnings potential, and mental well-being.

In our quest for optimal health, many of us turn to fads and diets as quick-fix solutions. From intermittent fasting to meat intensive diets, the array of proposed remedies is as diverse as the science purportedly supporting them.

In reality, chronic diseases arise from a complex interplay of factors, including your living environment, genetics, and lifestyle choices. Generally, more time spent engaging in unhealthy habits compounds the potential damage to your health.

While regular exercise, consistent sleep, and moderation or complete avoidance of unhealthy substances play fundamental roles in managing long-term health, one of the most important interventions is changing one’s eating habits.

Though fad diets may seem enticing, you don’t need to overhaul your entire food pantry. Simple dietary changes that incorporate more nutrients through fresh fruits and vegetables can significantly aid in the prevention and management of chronic diseases. When making these changes, everyone has probably heard the term ‘antioxidant’ thrown around. However, one powerful group of antioxidant nutrients is underappreciated: polyphenols.

Polyphenols are bioactive compounds renowned for their potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. Found in various fruits, vegetables, and beverages such as tea and berry juices, these compounds shield the body from free radicals, oxidative stress, and inflammation, thereby reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

One polyphenol that stands out for its health benefits is resveratrol. Resveratrol enhances metabolism, promotes the use of stored fat for energy, and has been linked with hormones that help better regulate appetite, leading to reduced calorie intake. By incorporating sufficient amounts of this polyphenol into your diet, you could improve overall health and aid in weight loss, all while avoiding the need for extremely costly pharmaceutical interventions like Ozempic—which costs close to $1,000 per month for the uninsured.

Beyond their protective abilities, polyphenols play a significant role in cellular renewal and rejuvenation. This includes promoting collagen production, which is crucial for maintaining skin elasticity and youthfulness. Many polyphenols also exhibit promising anti-aging properties by combating oxidative stress, a key contributor to the aging process.

The challenge to such an approach lies in concentrating enough of these polyphenols in one place. We all know our food systems are broken and our choices limited. When we shop, we face the combination of early-picked fruits that travel thousands of miles from their original home and a commercial food industry prioritizing highly processed foods. All this means that the food we can choose lacks the vital nutrients that promote a healthy life. In fact, for someone to consume enough polyphenols in their diet, they would need to eat 6kg of polyphenol-rich fruits, vegetables, and herbs daily. That’s simply not practical.

The good news is that new technologies and processes, like those used by food and nutrition start-up VANA Health, are finding ways to condense these nutrients into a concentrated dose. Now our job is to champion the expansion of polyphenol-rich foods and raise awareness of this nationwide nutrient deficiency in the fight against preventable chronic diseases.

Ultimately, proactive health strategies, including a greater focus on the role of polyphenols in maintaining optimal health, can pave the way for a more sustainable and healthier society. By emphasizing prevention rather than treatment, we can improve overall health outcomes in countries like the United Kingdom.