Beauty comes from within. Especially for women concerned with aging gracefully, our diets can boost or bust the factors that determine how we feel and look for years to come. If I told you there were foods that boost longevity, fight cancer, balance blood sugar, control cholesterol, quell inflammation, reduce fat storage, improve digestion, increase brain health, and support smooth skin — would you want to learn more? And if I told you some of those foods were wine, chocolate, and berries, would you jet to the grocery store? I know I would!
Let’s explore some powerful phenols – ring-shaped chemicals that function as helpful antioxidants in plant foods which can trigger internal healing and reduce damaging inflammation that accelerates our aging process. Four incredible polyphenols have exceptional potential for activating your body’s cellular cleaning process, known as autophagy, Together with my team of scientists and researchers, I’ve discovered that daily use of EGCG, berberine, curcumin, and trans-resveratrol can be included in your daily diet for a big payoff! I’ve coined the term, Powerphenol, to capture how uniquely powerful these four are.
Before we dive into these power players, let’s get re-acquainted with autophagy. Autophagy (“self-eating”) is the process of recycling your own tissues. When we eat these phenols, we trigger autophagy and repair cellular damage. With less damaged cells, the less likely we are to create an internal environment for cancer to thrive in. Damaged cells are usually older cells, and replacing them helps to restore youthful tissues. While humans can trigger autophagy through fasting and other mechanisms like exercise, consider the benefits of a boost with every bite. How empowering!
Start your day with a metabolic boost with Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate, or EGCG, found in green tea. Like the other polyphenols listed, EGCG boosts longevity: it drives autophagy and guards DNA against premature aging by protecting special end-caps (called telomeres) from damage. This powerful antioxidant helps to fight cancer by preventing tumor growth and decreasing factors that help cancer spread in the body.
Have you heard green tea boosts weight loss? By suppressing appetite, reducing fat storage, and increasing thermogenesis EGCG boosts metabolism. It causes heat production by burning fat – in some, up to 100 extra calories per day! Its anti-inflammatory role supports both the heart and the brain, decreasing inflammation in arteries, making blood less “sticky” by reducing platelet activity, and reduces symptoms of depression. As with other phenols, its powerful anti-inflammatory and autophagy-boosting capability helps to protect brain cells and fight dementia.
While green tea is the best source, EGCG is also contained in white tea (⅔ of green tea levels), oolong tea (½ green tea levels), and black tea (⅙ green tea levels). Trace amounts are found in apples, blackberries, cranberries, black currants, plums, raspberries, hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios. EGCG may be supplemented at 300 mg daily.
Turmeric is a part of mustard, curry powder, and otherworldly spice blends because of flavor – in fact, it is quite pungent and bitter! Still, for generations, this phenol has been included in food, beauty products, and other natural remedies. Modern science has drilled deep into this historical healer and found that it not only inhibits the growth of cancer cells and reduces inflammation through autophagy, but it also promotes heart health, boosts mood, and reduces blood sugar.
Curcumin is an antioxidant shown to improve insulin sensitivity by telling the liver not to make as much sugar. Because balancing blood sugar helps to lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, curcumin serves those with diabetes or heart disease. And just to ice the cake, curcumin is a natural anti-depressant with some evidence that it boosts the feel-good brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine – in one study curcumin was more effective than Prozac!
Love a creamy coconut curry? Curcumin is fat-soluble, so eat it with a fat (for example coconut milk curry, brighten scrambled eggs, toss with roasted veggies) or supplement 500 mg capsules, twice daily, of organic curcumin extracted with carbon dioxide. Use black pepper in a turmeric-containing meal to absorb it better!
Beyond the benefits of age-defying autophagy, berberine gets bonus points for its weight-reducing and fat-burning powers. Berberine activates a compound called AMPK, a “metabolic master switch” that turns on thermogenesis (burning more fat for heat while reducing white fat production). In one study, those who took berberine three times daily for 13 weeks lost an average of 5 pounds – a simple trick to hack your weight management plan!
Metabolic experts compare the effects of berberine to regular exercise – which sounds too good to be true, I know. But because berberine is masterful at improving insulin sensitivity and reducing high blood sugar – studies imply it is effective at controlling blood sugar – it’s the closest thing science has discovered to capturing the benefits of exercise in a pill.
Concerned with heart health? Berberine reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels (like our friend, curcumin) by reducing intestinal cholesterol absorption and reducing high concentrations of fats in the bloodstream.
If you are ready to quit smoking, berberine has been shown to help reduce lung damage from cigarette smoke. Digestive problems? Berberine supports healthy gut flora (bacteria) and may be used to fight certain parasitic gut infections.
Supplement this one: Berberine is in some herbs (like goldenseal and barberry) but not in common foods. Take 500 mg capsules three times daily at meals to reduce the potential for stomach upset as well as to provide the opportunity to take advantage of its ability to lower spikes in blood sugar after meals.
At the end of a long day, your new favorite excuse to reach for red wine is trans-resveratrol. While you may have heard of resveratrol’s ability to reduce inflammation which nourishes heart health by supporting healthy arteries, did you also know that its anti-inflammatory effects have been more effective than NSAIDs like aspirin or ibuprofen in some studies? When applied topically with EGCG, resveratrol has even been shown to slow skin aging! So put on a turmeric-green-tea-and-honey facemask as you raise your glass to science!
Furthermore, trans-resveratrol boosts brain health by improving cerebral blood flow, tightening up the blood-brain barrier, and reducing brain inflammation – these benefits have actually slowed the decline in Alzheimer’s patients! If that wasn’t enough, resveratrol might help you maintain a healthy weight by controlling appetite, reducing fat storage, and boosting the activity of mitochondria (the engines that burn fuel in every cell). Eat less, use energy more effectively, and store less fat – a recipe for success!
Abstaining? Resveratrol isn’t just for wine-lovers – find it in red grapes, dark chocolate, peanuts, dark berries — or even supplement 250 mg of trans-resveratrol once per day to pack in the power of phenols!
Shine from the inside out. Harness the power of polyphenols in these anti-inflammatory foods and supplements to add youth to your years, lose weight, boost mood, and get your GLOW on!
In my new book, Glow15, I share my favorite recipes along with my ultimate plan to increase your daily intake of these four Powerphenols. In the meantime, grab your FREE copy of these Glow15 recipes that will get you cooking with these Powerphenols right away!