Polyphenols & Microbiome…

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

I’m giving a short talk and participating in an expert panel discussion at UC Davis next week, where I will talk about, “Gut Feelings – the Role of the Microbiome in Mental Wellness” – and touch on aspects of dietary supplements related to probiotics, prebiotics, and “phytobiotics” like polyphenols that can modulate (and be modulated by) our microbiome.

Here is an interesting recent paper on the topic…

Biochem Pharmacol. 2017 Mar 16. pii: S0006-2952(17)30141-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2017.03.012.

Role of the small intestine, colon and microbiota in determining the metabolic fate of polyphenols.


(Poly)phenols are a large group of compounds, found in food, beverages, dietary supplements and herbal medicines. Owing to their biological activities, absorption and metabolism of the most abundant compounds in humans are well understood. Both the chemical structure of the phenolic moiety and any attached chemical groups define whether the polyphenol is absorbed in the small intestine, or reaches the colon and is subject to extensive catabolism by colonic microbiota. Untransformed substrates may be absorbed, appearing in plasma primarily as methylated, sulfated and glucuronidated derivatives, with in some cases the unchanged substrate. Many of the catabolites are well absorbed from the colon and appear in the plasma either similarly conjugated, or as glycine conjugates, or in some cases unchanged. Although many (poly)phenol catabolites have been identified in human plasma and / or urine, the pathways from substrate to final catabolite, and the species of bacteria and enzymes involved, are still scarcely reported. While it is clear that the composition of the human gut microbiota can be modulated in vivo by supplementation with some (poly)phenol-rich commodities, such modulation is definitely not an inevitable consequence of supplementation, it depends on the treatment, length of time and on the individual metabotype, and it is not clear whether the modulation is sustained when supplementation ceases. Some catabolites have been recorded in plasma of volunteers at concentrations similar to those shown to be effective in in vitro studies suggesting that some benefit may be achieved in vivo by diets yielding such catabolites.

KEYWORDS: Bioavailability; Conjugation; Microbiota; Phenolic acids; Polyphenols

PMID: 28322745 DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2017.03.012
About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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