A recently published study found that polyphenols, beyond being antioxidants, also support and benefit the colonic environment. Polyphenols are a class of chemicals found in plants (but not limited to plants).
Abstract: The effects of dietary polyphenols on human health have mainly been discussed in the context of preventing degenerative diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The antioxidant properties of polyphenols have been widely studied, but it has become clear that the mechanism of action of polyphenols extends beyond the modulation of oxidative stress, as they are poorly absorbed from the digestive tract. The purpose of this study was to clarify the effects of polyphenols on the colonic environment, intestinal barrier function, and gut microbiota. We demonstrated that dietary polyphenols derived from aronia, haskap, and bilberry, markedly elevated the amount of fecal mucin and immunoglobulin A (IgA) as an intestinal barrier function and ameliorated the disturbance in gut microbiota caused by a high fat diet in rats. These results suggest that dietary polyphenols play a significant role in the prevention of degenerative diseases through improvement of the colonic environment without any absorption from the digestive tract.