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Polyphenols May Help Strengthen the Immune System, German Study Shows

Polyphenols, potent antioxidants found in shitake mushrooms, great tea and grape seed, may be the most effective natural immune booster the modern world has been looking for.

In a new study spearheaded by German scientists, it was found that a special juice mix composed of shitake mushrooms, green tea, grape seed and the extract from grape seeds may help reduce the occurrence of one of science’s most baffling problems: the common cold.

Because the common cold can be caused by literally hundreds of different pathogens, no single vaccination can be effective against it.  This is where the human immune system steps in: the stronger the immune system, the less likely for a person to suffer from the common cold.

Polyphenols vs. the common cold

The special juice mix had a high dose of natural polyphenols, one of nature’s most potent antioxidants.  According to researchers from Rudolf Wild GmbH, the proponent of the study, the respondents of their study are termed as being “immune impaired” because the test subjects have imbalanced diets, are overweight, etc.

Some respondents have also been exposed to physical stress. The researchers’ choice of respondents is important: because the subjects of the study are immune impaired, it is easier to measure their response to nutritional benefits.

Because nearly everyone, at least at one point in their lives, have been immune-impaired, the researchers stated that the results of their study can be accurately extrapolated for the rest of the population. This means that whatever benefits emerge from the study is potentially accessible to anyone who wishes to partake of the benefits of polyphenols.

The study reported a clear improvement in the test subjects who had been suffering from a general feeling of malaise, headaches, pain in the joints, nausea, hoarseness, coughing fits, etc.  The results were compared to a placebo group that showed little or no improvement throughout the testing period.

The testing ran for ten full days, with each respondent (in the test group) being given two doses of the polyphenol-rich juice mix.  All the respondents had a cold that started 24 hours or less before the 10-day study began.

Polyphenols as immune boosting compounds

The big question after the study was of course, “how did that happen?”  According to the researchers, the immune-boosting power of the polyphenol-rich juice mix may be due to the presence of the following compound, two of which have been associated with strengthening the body’s immune cells (T-cells):

  • Catechines
  • L-theanine
  • 3-O glucoside
  • Vitamin C (61.4 mg for every 500 milliliters of the juice mix)

The 3-O glucoside compound, found in grape seed, may also inhibit the formation of COX-1 enzyme and COX-2 enzyme. These two enzymes, known collectively as cyclooxygenase, have been linked with the increased incidence of tissue inflammation, ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer.

The critical role of antioxidants

Polyphenols have been long in the list of nature’s most efficient antioxidants.  Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemical compounds that protect the body’s cells from premature aging and destruction by removing free radicals.  Free radicals are by-products produced by the body’s cells – unfortunately, these by-products also have the ability to harm healthy cells.   Antioxidants reduce the damage by neutralizing these free radicals.

In addition to protecting the body’s cells from free radicals, antioxidants are also being studied for their potential role in reducing the incidence of breast cancer and also heart diseases.  In more recent years, it has also been linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most common medical conditions of the senior population in the United States.

Other benefits of antioxidants

For many decades, science has been testing and continually exploring the other possible benefits of antioxidants to the human body.  Here are just some of the established benefits of antioxidants:

1. May reduce the incidence of heart disease.

2. Helps boost the immune system.

3. May help slow down internal and external signs of aging.

4. Antioxidants such as vitamin C may also help improve respiratory function, skin health and bone health.

5. Selenium, a natural antioxidant found in fruits, vegetables, grains and meat, has been linked to increased killer cell activities and increased production of antibodies. Selenium has also been associated with the decreased incidence of prostate cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

6. Carrots, which contain a lot of beta carotene, may help reduce night vision problems and bodily infections. Eating carrots and other similar vegetables also enhance the body’s natural development.

7. Vitamin E protects the fats necessary for normal cell growth, reproduction and functions. Is also being hailed as the vitamin for slowing down age-related medical conditions.

8. Lutein, a natural antioxidant, may help promote healthier eyes and clearer vision.

9. Lycopene, a popular antioxidant found in tomato-based products, is very efficient in cleaning up the free radicals in the body and is also readily absorbed by the human body.

10. Antioxidants may help slow down the progress of chronic, degenerative diseases such as adult-onset diabetes.

Sources:
nutraingredients.com
news-medical.net
arthritis.co.za
faqs.org
carrotmuseum.co.uk
csiro.au
globalhealingcenter.com

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