We’re back with another Workout Nutrition DIY post. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but some companies in the supplement industry are really starting to grind my gears again so hey – here we are.
If you haven’t checked out the last blog post on how to get a Workout Edge with Reg Park’s Classic 5 x 5 Method, go ahead and do that now.
Fitness and nutrition is becoming more and more widespread these days – Instagram and TikTok is full of “influencers” who promise they can tell you the best way to get that dream bod you want while still remaining “humble” by disclosing their “fitness journey” about how they used to be obese.
And that’s fine.
But what never seems to stop getting my dander up is the pseudo-science – and the fact that that pseudo-science is accepted just by how many likes it gets because of an algorithm some guy whose never even seen the inside of a gym has invented (you know who you are).
One particular thing that I’ve really got a bone to pick with is the rise of meal replacement shakes – and fruit & vegetable supplements – implying they can replace whole food nutrition.
Maybe I’m in a rant mood today I don’t know.
But here we go.
So you see an ad on YouTube or TikTok and it says it’s going to give you all the nutrition you need in one handy shake plus solve all your life problems for you.
You’ll save money on lunch, get better skin, more muscle mass, better sex, that promotion you’ve always wanted, your wife will come back to you, agree to have a threesome, and let you take out a second mortgage on the house for that dream Mustang you’ve always wanted.
Alright so maybe it didn’t promise the last 4 but you get the idea.
Then there are supplement companies out there that will have you believe you don’t need to worry about knowing what fruits and vegetables to pick when you go grocery shopping because you can get them all in powdered form, like some MRE you eat while deployed.
And while I agree fruit & vegetable supplements can be helpful and serve as a “booster” on top of eating your 5 a day, they will not, magically alter your life and give you loads of energy.
In the name of all things holy, they’re fruits and vegetables dammit, which means they help with minerals and antioxidants – polyphenols and carotenoids, more commonly known as strong antioxidants – not 1st world problems; and they certainly can’t replace whole fruits and vegetables entirely, nor are they all you need for a healthier lifestyle.
Eating your fruits and veggies and supplementing with their respective supplements does mean you’ll reap the benefits of having more antioxidants – something I talk about in both SUPP UP. No Bull Military Nutrition guides.
It does not mean you’ll notice an surge in energy or a hard-on for life – we’re not talking about a line of you-know-what you do off some stripper’s ass.
I also don’t like how some companies ever so subtly imply that they can replace whole fruits and vegetables in your nutrition uptake and you never have to eat another fresh fruit or vegetable again.
Ok I’ve had my rant. Now let’s look at what antioxidants found in whole fruits and vegetables do and why whole foods are still important while their powdered cousin is more like Robin to Batman.
Medical Effects of Polyphenols
Polyphenols are the largest group of dietary antioxidants known. Their numbers are vast, and the best estimation is they can have over 8,000 different chemical structures. They have the ability to donate hydrogen atoms, electrons, and metal cations, and can also scavenge free radicals.
Due to these mechanisms, this means they play a huge but unspoken role in preventing and protecting us against some of the worst killers to afflict humankind (if you want to have a look at the research yourself, check out: Cory et al, 2018 at the end of this post under References).
Polyphenols and Neurological Disorders
The antioxidant properties of different polyphenols also improve brain function and brain health (Islam et al, 2022; Maqbool & Zehravi, 2021). They protect your brain cells from being damaged (and let’s face it, brain health is everything), improve synaptic plasticity – which allows neurons to communicate with each other easier, and reduce the buildup of neuropathological proteins – like those present in diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc.
Polyphenols and Obesity
Studies that have been done (Boccellino & D’Angelo, 2020) in vitro both in humans and animals found that certain polyphenols may increase thermogenesis and energy expenditure; they may also decrease inflammation and oxidative stress in general, which facilitates weight loss. You’ll remember I wrote about this in both SUPP UP. No Bull Military Nutrition Guides.
The known polyphenols for this are EGCG also known as epigallocatechin gallate and anthocyanins. EGCG can be found in things like avocados and green tea, while anthocyanins are found in foods like cherries, berries, red onions and more.
Polyphenols and Cancer
Cells get old and stop functioning normally. Apoptosis is a type of cell death; it sounds bad, but it’s a vital process in an organism’s health. When left unchecked, these cells can turn cancerous. Apoptosis gets rid of the dead cells before they can cause any trouble.
However, once cancer cells begin to develop, apoptosis can be blocked – and this is where polyphenols come in; they step in and save the day by initiating apoptosis to lower the chance of this happening.
Other cell defense systems are also promoted by polyphenols, in addition to modulating cell cycle signaling (the pathways that control cell proliferation).
Several studies (Bhosale et all, 2020) confirm that high flavonoid intake is related to a lower incidence of cancer, in particular cancers of the lungs, stomach, and colon.
Polyphenols and Type 2 Diabetes
Speaking of flavonoids (in particular anthocyanins found in berries), these guys can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by improving insulin secretion and sensitivity (Guasch-Ferré et al, 2017) and decreasing the post-prandial insulin response. The logic is they’re able to do this because they inhibit the digestion of carbohydrates, alongside slowing intestinal glucose absorption.
Flavonoids also modulate the liver’s release of glucose and stimulate insulin secretion, while also triggering beneficial gene expression and cell signaling pathways.
Polyphenols and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
You’ll remember I talked about oxidative stress in previous blog posts. It’s a main culprit in the development of CVD (Behl et al, 2020). It trashes the linings of blood vessels function (the endothelium – I also wrote about this in the SUPP UP. No Bull Workouts For Better Sex guide), which triggers atherosclerosis and ultimately, cardiovascular disease.
Polyphenols increase the production of nitric oxide, which widens the pathways that red blood cells travel, thus avoiding strokes.
Other effects of making sure you get your daily dose of antioxidants include the ability to naturally lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, raise HDL (good) cholesterol, and promote positive effects on blood pressure.
While various polyphenols can play a role in protecting your cardiovascular system, quercetin is the real MVP. You can find huge quantities of it in red onions, berries, and other dark fruits and vegetables.
What I’m Really Trying to Say is…
Science has only just started to explore the vast world of antioxidants/polyphenols, and the potential benefits for humankind appear limitless.
The right types and amounts of polyphenols may one day give us the mythical “wonder pill” that present-day nutritional alchemists are looking for. Polyphenols may just cure countless diseases. They may lengthen not just the life span but the health span where people age but keep the strength, mobility, and vigor of their youth.
But getting all this from a single antioxidant supplement? No matter how advanced it is, the chances of that happening are low, and that supplement would need help from you.
So What’s The Verdict?
No one fruit & vegetable supplement contains all the polyphenols you need for perfect health, no more than a single medicine cures all illnesses. Remember, there are around 8,000 polyphenols that have been discovered.
Like I said in my nutrition guide SUPP UP. No Bull, Whole Food Military Nutrition at Home – there are other types of plant-based foods beyond your fruits and vegetables, all of which are abundant in antioxidants that are unique. If you want to know what these are, get the guide with the flexible SUPP UP. No Bull Meal Planner now.
Bottom line, you just have to be aggressive and really go for it when it comes to eating healthy, balanced meals everyday; the supplements are just a top-up.
Stop thinking some all-in-one shake, capsule, tablet, or gummy bear is going to make you healthy overnight.
Like building muscle, there are no shortcuts.
So do it properly.
That’s all folks.
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Behl, T., Bungau, S., Kumar, K., Zengin, G., Khan, F., Kumar, A., Kaur, R., Venkatachalam, T., Tit, M., D., Vesa, C., M., Barsan, G., Mostenau, D.E. 2020. Pleotropic Effects of Polyphenols in Cardiovascular System. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 130:110714. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110714
Bhosale, P. B., Eun Ha, S., Vetrivel, P., Kim, H. H., Kim, S. M., Kim, G. S. 2020. Functions of polyphenols and its anticancer properties in biomedical research: a narrative review. Transl Cancer Res. 9(12), pp. 7619-7631. Available from: http://doi.org10.21037/tcr-20-2359
Boccellino, M., D’Angelo, S. 2020. Anti-Obesity Effects of Polyphenol Intake: Current Status and Future Possibilities. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 21(16):5642. Available from https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21165642
Cory, H., Passarell, S., Szeto, J., Tamez, M., Mattei, J. 2018.The Role of Polyphenols in Human Health and Food Systems: A Mini-Review. Frontiers in Nutrition. Volume 5. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2018.00087
Guasch-Ferré, M., Merin, J., Sun, Q., Fitó, M., Salas-Salvadó, J. 2017. Dietary Polyphenols, Mediterranean Diet, Prediabetes, and Type 2 Diabetes: A Narrative Review of the Evidence. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 17(6723931), 16 pages. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6723931
Islam, F., Islam, Md. M., Khan Meem, A. F., Nafadt, M. H., Islam, Md. R., Akter, A., Mitra, S., Alhumaydhi, F.A., Emran, T. B., Khusro, A., Simal-Gandara, J., Eftekhari, A., Karimi, F., Baghayeri, M. 2022. Multifaceted role of polyphenols in the treatment and management of neurodegenerative diseases. Chemosphere. 307(3):136020. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.136020
Maqbool, M., Zehravi, M. 2021. Neuroprotective Role of Polyphenols in Treatment of Neurological Disorders: A Review. Interv Pain Med Neuromod. 1(1):e117170. Available from: https://doi.org/10.5812/ipmn.117170.
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