What are flavonoids? They are natural plant-based compounds found in many fruits and vegetables and in wine, chocolate and tea. They are rich in antioxidants, which help the body stay healthy and reduce the chances of getting chronic diseases. However, they have been seen to benefit most in diseases related to aging. Other benefits include increased insulin sensitivity, the decline in cognitive failure, cancer and other metabolic diseases.
The six types of flavonoids include flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, flavanones, flavan-3-ols and anthocyanidins. All these types have different influences on a person’s health. Research shows that flavonoids have had a positive influence on people above the age of 45. Individuals who are keen in taking flavonoids have better odds at healthy aging.
Functions of flavonoids
Flavonoids help in regulating cellular activities. Simply, they help the body to function more efficiently by reducing toxins. They contain antioxidants, which help the body conquer harmful molecules in the body. They also help in reducing symptoms caused by inflammation.
Flavonoids and age-related diseases
As people continue to age, they are exposed to the risk of infection or getting diseases associated with aging. However, a study was conducted to show some of the positive effects that it has had on a number of people above the age of 45. Some of the diseases associated with aging include cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and many more.
The different subclasses of flavonoids have different effects on the body. Flavanols contain antioxidant properties, which may help in managing cardiovascular disease symptoms. Flavones help in body inflammation. Flavanones help in managing weight and cholesterol. Isoflavones keep the balance of hormones. Therefore, the above subclasses contribute differently to better cognitive health, managing metabolic syndromes and the promotion of bone health.
- Cancer. The use of flavonoids has brought about a change in cancer prevention and treatment. Although the compound is still under research, there have been effective results over the years. For example, green tea has been useful in treating colorectal cancer. The tea stimulates apoptosis in cancer cells and abnormal cells. Botanicals act differently depending on the cancer. However, if one botanical acts on one cancer, it can work on another. The effects are dependent on the genotype of each cancer and the hormones circulating it.
- Cognitive diseases. As people increase with age, they are more likely to develop neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, which may occur at age 65 and above. However, polyphenols have been seen to reverse age-related cognitive disorders. The effects go way beyond the antioxidant properties present in the botanicals by delaying age-related decline of brain function.
- Metabolic syndrome. Hypertension is known to contribute to the possibility of having a stroke or a heart disease. The widely studied botanical known to have protection against cardiovascular disease is soy. This is because soy isoflavones activate estrogen receptors, which control blood pressure and stroke. Other flavonoids include grapeseed extract and kudzu root, which both decrease hypertension.
- Glucose control. Due to the increase in type 2 diabetes around the country, medical experts have incorporated botanicals into dietary supplements. They are known to improve glycemic control. These botanicals include cinnamon and extracts from the kudzu, an Asian root.
- Osteoporosis. Bone mass decrease comes with age in adults. Numbers have shown that people who do not take dietary supplements with flavonoids experience bone mass loss more than those who do otherwise. So far, soy has been praised for the positive effects its isoflavones produce.
Researchers are only beginning to discover the effects of flavonoids on human health. The results seem promising. People who want healthy aging should consult with their medical advisors on how to use flavonoids to reduce, delay and even prevent age-related diseases.