Polyphenol can Improve Intestinal Permeability (Study Found) 😃

Key Highlights

  • Increased intestinal permeability can be dangerous, because harmful substances can enter into the bloodstream.
  • A protein, called zonulin, is the only known regulator of intestinal permeability.
  • This study showed that polyphenol can improve intestinal permeability.

Leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability is a digestive disorder, in which bacteria and toxins can “leak” through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.

There are many small gaps in the intestinal wall, called tight junction, which allow water and nutrients to pass, while blocking the passage of harmful substances.

When tight junction become loose, the gut become more permeable, which cause “leaky gut”. It can also lower the beneficial effects of healthy diet.

Some external factors of leaky gut are aging, food allergies or intolerances and unhealthy diets. 

The only known regulator of intestinal permeability found is a protein called zonulin. [1]

Bacteria in intestine and gluten may be the trigger of the release of zonulin. [1]

The good news is that a recent study showed polyphenol can improve intestinal permeability. [2]

Let’s discuss it.

Table of Contents

How was the Research Done?

This research was done by The Biomarkers and Nutritional & Food Metabolomics research group and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study is led by Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences  and the head of the Research Group.

This study was carried out in adults over 60 years of age, living in a nursing home for 8 weeks.

Researchers provided them polyphenol rich diet, which include up to 3 daily servings of apple, cocoa or dark chocolate, green tea, blueberries, oranges, or pomegranate juice.

To measure the result, researchers analyzed plasma and fecal samples of the participants.

What is the Result of this Study?

After analyzing their plasma and fecal samples, researchers found that polyphenol can improve intestinal permeability.

This study has shown that polyphenol rich diet improves intestinal permeability by producing specific changes in their gut microbiota.

What did the Researchers say?

According to the experts Gregorio Perón and Tomás Meroño (UB-INSA and CIBERFES), “we studied the existing relationship between the metabolism of the elements of the diet, microbiota and intestinal permeability, by analysing the changes that are caused by a polyphenol-rich diet in the microbiota of the participants in our study and testing the resulting improvement of their gut barrier”.

The analysis of plasmatic and faecal samples showed an increase of the serum metabolome related to the polyphenol intake. “For instance, theobromine and methylxanthine ─ derived from cocoa and green tea ─ are positively correlated with butyrate-producing bacteria (a fatty acid in the intestinal flora), and inversely with zonulin, a protein related to the intestinal permeability”, note the authors.

According to Professor Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, “the study of the relationship between intestinal permeability, microbiota composition and food metabolism has to be the base for establishing customized diets for every life stage, especially for the elderly”.

In short, changes in lifestyle and food are decisive as a prevention strategy for intestinal permeability associated to aging and chronic diseases. “A higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and foods such as those described in this paper provide fiber and polyphenols that could help counterbalance the damaging of permeability due to ageing”, notes Andrés-Lacueva.

Gut Friendly Diet, Polyphenol can Improve Intestinal Permeability,
Polyphenol rich foods can improve Intestinal Permeability.

How Polyphenol can Improve Intestinal Permeability?

According to the researchers, polyphenols make some changes in the gut microbiota.

They also found that polyphenol reduces zonulin production, which regulate the intestinal permeability.

The Final Word

Intestinal permeability can be dangerous.

Include polyphenol rich foods like apple, cocoa or dark chocolate, green tea, blueberries, oranges, or pomegranate juice in your diet.

Also, do regular 30 mins of exercise for your overall health.


This article is written by a certified nutritionist and verified by scientific evidence. ☑️

We rely on reputed and specialized media sites, academic research institutions, peer-reviewed studies, government agencies, and medical associations to source information. 📰

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  1. HHS Public Access: Intestinal Permeability and its Regulation by Zonulin: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Implications. Accessed 27 October 2021.
  2. Clinical Nutrition: Crosstalk among intestinal barrier, gut microbiota and serum metabolome after a polyphenol-rich diet in older subjects with “leaky gut”: The MaPLE trial. Accessed 27 October 2021.

About the Author

A. R. Choudhury, ARChoudhuryMSc,

A. R. Choudhury is a IGNOU certified nutritionist in India with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biochemistry.

He also has considerable research experience and additional certificates in nutrition. 👍

Abdur started NutritionCrown in 2020 to organize nutrition information under one umbrella. ☂️

He is passionate about empowering people to make well-informed food choices to support their health.

Abdur currently lives in India and keeps fit by weight training and eating mainly home-cooked meals. 💪 🥗