Dr. Emek Blair

Polyphenols and Blood Sugar Regulation: How Plant-Based Compounds May Improve Metabolic Health

Polyphenols are a class of bioactive compounds found in a variety of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, and cocoa. These compounds are known for their critical role in your antioxidant system and healthy stress response properties, which make them popular ingredients in dietary supplements and functional foods. However, in recent years, there has been growing interest in the potential of polyphenols to regulate blood sugar metabolism and prevent the development of metabolic misfire.

Blood sugar regulation is a complex process that involves multiple organs and hormones. The primary hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels is insulin, which is produced by the pancreas in response to a rise in blood glucose levels. Insulin facilitates the uptake of glucose into cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for later use. However, many people have this process is impaired, leading to chronically elevated blood sugar levels, which can cause obesity.

Polyphenols and Blood Sugar Regulation: Mechanisms and Effects

Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain how polyphenols may help regulate blood sugar metabolism. One of the most well-studied mechanisms is the inhibition of carbohydrate digestion by polyphenols. Carbohydrates are one of the primary sources of glucose in the diet, and their digestion is mediated by enzymes such as alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. Polyphenols have been shown to inhibit the activity of these enzymes, thereby slowing down the rate of carbohydrate digestion and reducing the peak blood glucose response after a meal. This effect has been observed with several polyphenol-rich foods, including green tea, grape seed extract, and resveratrol.

In addition to their effects on carbohydrate digestion, polyphenols have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in various animal and human studies. Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells become less responsive to the action of insulin, leading to elevated blood glucose levels.

Mechanisms for the Improvement of Insulin Sensitivity by Polyphenols

The exact mechanism by which polyphenols improve insulin sensitivity is not fully understood, but several possible explanations have been proposed. One is that polyphenols may activate certain signaling pathways in cells that are involved in glucose uptake and metabolism. For example, studies have shown that catechins found in green tea can activate the AMPK pathway, which is a key regulator of energy metabolism in cells. Activation of this pathway has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in various tissues, including muscle and fat cells.

Another mechanism by which polyphenols may support insulin sensitivity is by promoting your anti-oxidant system which reduced oxidative stress. These processes are known to impair insulin signaling and contribute to the development of insulin resistance. Polyphenols have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in various animal and human studies, which may explain their beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.

The Complex Effects of Polyphenols on Glucose Uptake and Blood Sugar Metabolism

Finally, polyphenols may also have a direct effect on glucose uptake by cells. For example, quercetin, a flavonoid found in many fruits and vegetables, has been shown to increase glucose uptake in muscle cells, while catechins found in green tea have been shown to increase glucose uptake in fat cells. These effects may contribute to the overall improvement in blood sugar control observed with polyphenol-rich diets.

It is important to note that the effects of polyphenols on blood sugar metabolism are complex and may vary depending on the type and dose of polyphenol, as well as individual factors such as genetics and diet. Additionally, most studies on polyphenols and blood sugar regulation have been conducted in animals and people. However, there is a growing body of evidence to support the potential benefits of polyphenols for blood sugar metabolism and overall metabolic health.

Some studies have also looked at the potential synergistic effects of combining different polyphenols, such as those found in a variety of plant-based foods. For example, a study in rats found that a combination of resveratrol, quercetin, and catechins had a greater effect on improving insulin sensitivity than any of the polyphenols alone. Similarly, a study in humans found that a combination of green tea extract and grape seed extract improved insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in muscle tissue compared to a placebo.

In conclusion, polyphenols are a class of bioactive compounds found in a variety of plant-based foods that have the potential to improve blood sugar metabolism and prevent the development of metabolic misfire. The mechanisms by which polyphenols exert their effects on blood sugar regulation are complex and involve multiple pathways, including the inhibition of carbohydrate digestion, improved insulin sensitivity, and direct effects on glucose uptake by cells. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of polyphenols for metabolic health, the available evidence suggests that including a variety of polyphenol-rich foods in the diet may be a simple and effective way to support overall health and well-being.


Zhu Y and Huang X. “The regulation of blood sugar by dietary polyphenols and their potential mechanisms of action.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 68, no. 30, 2020, pp. 7937-7948.

Williamson G. “Possible effects of dietary polyphenols on sugar absorption and digestion.” Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, vol. 53, suppl. 2, 2009, pp. S61-S66.

Shen Y, Wang Y, and Chen L. “Insulin resistance, an intertwined factor linking excessive adiposity to metabolic disorders.” Journal of Cellular Physiology, vol. 234, no. 10, 2019, pp. 17579-17589.

Davinelli S et al. “A randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of an anthocyanin-maqui berry extract (Delphinol®) on oxidative stress biomarkers.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 34, no. 1, 2015, pp. 28-33.

Ma Q et al. “Anthocyanin supplementation improves anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory capacity in a dose-response manner in subjects with dyslipidemia.” Redox Biology, vol. 21, 2019, article 101090.

Yang J et al. “Effects of green tea and its epigallocatechin (EGCG) content on body weight and fat mass in humans: a systematic review.” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 5, 2019, article 1162.

Aguirre L et al. “Quercetin and its anti-diabetic potential: An overview.” Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 17, no. 12, 2017, pp. 1063-1075.

Singh AK et al. “Role of resveratrol in regulation of cellular defense systems against oxidative stress.” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, vol. 1850, no. 6, 2015, pp. 1283-1293.

Liposomal Glutathione: The Best Way to Ensure Absorption and Effectiveness

Glutathione is a tripeptide molecule composed of the amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid. It is a potent antioxidant that plays a crucial role in protecting cells and tissues from oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals.

Oxidative stress is a significant contributor to aging and the development of many chronic diseases. The skin, being the body’s largest organ, is particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage caused by environmental factors such as pollution, UV radiation, and stress. Glutathione helps protect the skin from oxidative stress and damage by neutralizing free radicals and reducing IL-6 and IL-2 markers.

The Power of Glutathione for Healthy Skin

One of the primary functions of glutathione in the skin is to support the immune system. The skin is the body’s first line of defense against pathogens, and glutathione plays a critical role in maintaining its integrity and function. It supports the immune response by helping to neutralize harmful substances and protect skin cells from environmental damage.

Glutathione is also essential for maintaining healthy skin by supporting the synthesis of collagen. Collagen is a protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin, and its production decreases with age, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Glutathione helps to maintain the production of collagen, ensuring that the skin remains firm and elastic.

In addition to its antioxidant and immune-supporting properties, glutathione has been shown to have skin-lightening effects. It inhibits the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color, and can reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Get Glowing Skin with Glutathione Supplements

Studies have shown that glutathione supplementation can improve skin health and appearance. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, women who received a glutathione supplement for 12 weeks showed a significant improvement in skin elasticity, moisture content, and wrinkle reduction compared to the placebo group. Another study found that glutathione supplementation improved skin clarity, brightness, and overall appearance in healthy women.  However, the glutathione was destroyed by the stomach into its amino acid components and then resynthesized by the body.  Liposomal glutathione protects the glutathione and makes sure it survives the stomach environment.

In addition to oral supplements, glutathione can also be administered topically. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that topical application of oxidized glutathione reduced melanin content in the skin and improved skin lightening in healthy women.

Glutathione is also important for wound healing. It plays a crucial role in the formation of new blood vessels and the production of collagen, which are essential for tissue regeneration and wound repair. Studies have shown that glutathione supplementation can support wound healing in animal models and human subjects.

In conclusion, glutathione is a crucial molecule for maintaining healthy and beautiful skin. Its antioxidant properties protect the skin from damage, while its immune-supporting and collagen-synthesizing abilities help maintain the skin’s integrity and elasticity. Additionally, glutathione has skin-lightening effects and can improve wound healing. Supplementation with glutathione, either orally or topically, may improve skin health and appearance but the best results are likely from liposomal supplementation as the body is still limited in how well it can take glutathione that is broken down by the stomach and resynthesized by your cells.


  1. Watanabe F, Hashizume E, Chan GP, et al. Skin-whitening and skin-condition-improving effects of topical oxidized glutathione: a double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trial in healthy women. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2014;7:267-274.
  2. Kim SH, Hwang JS, Han JH, et al. Whitening effects of glutathione and fish collagen peptide topical cream on female human skin. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2014;13(1):40-48.
  3. Watanabe F, Hashizume E, Miyagi Y. et al. Effects of topical and oral glutathione supplementation on skin whitening: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Derm
  4. Schäfer M, Werner S. Oxidative stress in normal and impaired wound repair. Pharmacol Res. 2008;58(2):165-171.
  5. Sharma M, Gupta V, Dubey A, et al. Effect of systemic L-glutathione administration on serum concentration of glutathione in patients undergoing external radiation treatment. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2013;87(3):568-573.