A recent study has indicated that special bioactive compounds found in plants, known as polyphenols, may help to stimulate the growth of a variety of bacteria.

Lead Researcher Kemperman states, “The study shows that these complex polyphenols in the context of a model ecosystem can modulate select members of the human gut microbiota.

Polyphenols, found in abundance in foods such as black & green tea and red wine, have long been known for their cardiovascular health benefits in terms of lowering cholesterol and reducing blood pressure.

green tea
Green Tea is a rich source of polyphenols.

The Unilever Research and Development Team carrying out the study used an in-vitro simulator of the intestinal gut microbial ecosystem (known as SHIME), which they challenged with black tea and a red wine grape extract. It appears that as the polyphenols reached the lower intestine, there was interaction between them and the microbiota in the small and large intestine. Some bacterial groups were also able to convert polyphenols into metabolites.

The results demonstrated that the polyphenols from black tea and red wine grape extracts encouraged growth of a number of bacteria types such as Klebsiella and Akkermansia, and reduced other types such as Bifidobacteria and Bacteroides.

For more info about beneficial bacteria, click 'What are Probiotics'?

Reference: Kemperman, R.A, Gross, G. Mondot, S. et al “Impact of polyphenols from black tea and red wine/grape juice on a gut model microbiome”.

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