Enhancing and Protecting Your Immune System: Antiviral Properties of Polyphenols
Polyphenols are like little powerhouses for our bodies. They help with so many functions and there’s no shortage of information proving that. We know they help with the prevention of diseases and that they help aid in repairing our cells. They do most of these things by enhancing our immune system.
Our immune systems are quite complex and there are a lot of working parts that help to protect us. But, this also means that there are a lot of things that can become inefficient and ultimately lead to a decline in our health.
Fresh foods are a huge part of staying healthy along with exercise, getting out in the sunshine for vitamin D, and drinking lots and lots of water. All of these things work synergistically to make sure you’re at your prime.
This makes your immune system more highly functional and protects you from bacteria and viruses that can cause you harm.
Polyphenols play a major role in all of this as they have antimicrobial and antiviral properties in addition to the commonly spoken about antioxidant capabilities.
What are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are plant-derived compounds that when ingested carry out different tasks based on what property they are.
Polyphenols are broken down into several categories and then subcategories. The main ones you’ll hear about in this post are flavonoids, flavonols, and catechins.
Each group provides different benefits. Each plant food you consume, will provide your body with multiple types of polyphenols but generally one or two main groups.
How Does the Immune System Work?
This could honestly be made into a very, very long book. However, we only have your attention for so long. So we will give you a quick rundown of how your immune system functions and therefore how it can dysfunction.
- Bone marrow
- Lymph nodes
- Mucous membranes (nose, throat, bladder, genitals)
All of these organs and body parts help to protect your body from invaders and supply it with the proper equipment to fight off any trespassers that might get past your normal defense system.
If you ever noticed when you go to the doctor feeling sick, they’ll touch your throat under your jawline. They’re doing this to check your lymph glands.
When your lymph glands are swollen, it’s an indicator that your immune system has been activated and is creating the cells needed to fight off bacteria, viruses, and other infections.
The many cells of your body — especially those in the immune system — help to maintain homeostasis. Communicators like cytokines and toll-like receptors (TLR) allow your organs to send messages to each other to stimulate the production of the necessary cells depending on what invader has been detected.
Your immune system is complex, to say the least, but it’s SO important that it functions properly to keep you safe from dangerous viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
How Polyphenols Improve Your Immune System
Right now we are all mostly on lockdown to protect ourselves from COVID-19. Social distancing is an obvious way to protect yourself. However, staying inside all the time will make you go seriously crazy and actually weaken your immune system.
Current research has proven that polyphenols are essential for immune support. Polyphenols boost the immune system in a number of different ways.
First, zinc is essential for a healthy immune system. However, it can only be effective when it is intracellular. Polyphenols act as ionophores, which drive the zinc into the cells more efficiently.
Secondly, polyphenols have shown they assist in modulating a cytokine response by providing anti-protease support.
Why is this important? When your body overreacts to a virus, it may turn on too many cytokines and this can lead to death.
Polyphenols help prevent this reaction from the immune system, to help keep your immune system running efficiently.
In addition, polyphenols have demonstrated the ability to support a balanced inflammatory response.
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to harmful stimuli (pathogens, damaged cells, toxic compounds, etc.) Polyphenols help to initiate the response to remove the injurious stimuli and start the healing process. Therefore, a balanced inflammatory response is vital to health.
Polyphenols have been found to inhibit pro-inflammatory transcription factors. This means that when our bodies are exposed to different dangers that normally would kick our inflammatory responses into high gear, it fights that urge if it isn’t totally necessary. This is a big deal when it comes to chronic inflammatory disorders like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal disorders. It’s also one of the main reasons polyphenols have been found to have such potent effects on these diseases.
Studies have shown that polyphenol consumption help to increase the amount of healthy immune cells like B, helper T (Th), natural killer (NK), and dendritic cells (DC).
This increase helps the immune system to function more smoothly with the surplus (but not an excessive amount) of immune cells.
One of the beliefs behind the superpowers of polyphenols is that they have epigenetic capabilities that allow them to achieve all of these incredible benefits.
Epigenetic means that they’re actually able to manipulate the genetic sequencing in our cells. This is the developing belief behind being able to avoid and fight hereditary illnesses. Many studies have proven it to be a very plausible hypothesis through twin testing.
Lastly, polyphenols, such as those in Atrantil, are scientifically proven to promote gut health. A healthy gut is imperative for a healthy immune system.
Polyphenols vs. Viruses
Viruses are typically also capable of altering our genetic codes since many times they’ll attach to RNA strands so they’re able to replicate. This has seemed to be the case with COVID-19.
Polyphenols don’t just boost your immune system to lower your chances of getting viruses, they’re also proven to help your body fight viruses off.
Catechins — especially in the form of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) — has been proven to be effective at fighting a wide variety of viruses.
Black tea has also been proven to be extremely effective when fighting viruses. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was the other coronavirus predecessor to COVID-19 that infected humans. A study was published to try and find out what polyphenols would be able to fight this virus the best.
Theaflavin-3,3’-digallate (TFD) was the polyphenol that actually had the most beneficial effects against this particular virus strain.
TFD was able to stop the protease activity which allows this strain to replicate. This could be a major pathway for studies for the current coronavirus plaguing the globe.
While we promote using natural healthcare options, we do NOT implore that eating polyphenols will prevent, cure, or eradicate this or any disease. If you are experiencing symptoms, please seek professional medical attention right away.
Polyphenols are an amazing source to support your immune health. However, there is a time and place where professional medical intervention is a completely necessary option.
We want everyone to be safe during this crisis. That’s why we provide this vital information to you.
Take the quarantine seriously. Practice social distancing and proper sanitary habits.
Get your vitamin D from the sun (it is also antiviral).
Focus on your mental health.
And you’re on the right path to avoiding this disease.
This will not make you immune to it completely, but it will definitely help.
What ways are you protecting yourself? What antiviral precautions are you taking? Let us know in the comments section below :)