It seems like the whole world has suddenly become aware of the importance of gut health and gut flora. For the uninitiated, gut flora refers to a colony of microorganisms that reside in our digestive tracts. The probiotics (good bacteria) serve to break down food and increase our immunity. The pathogenic bacteria are ones that can cause disease and negatively affect health. When people speak about improving 'gut health', the idea is to feed the good bacteria and prevent risk of bacterial infection that could take a toll on digestion and overall immunity. One of the most common pathogenic bacteria is Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) which can lead to stomach inflammation, gastritis, peptic ulcers and even stomach cancer if left untreated; therefore, a timely intervention is always advised. The use of multiple rounds of antibiotics are used to treat these infections, but there are many side effects and bacterial resistance rates are increasing. Complementary H. pylori management strategies, including effective dietary regimens are gaining favor since they are natural and can maintain the good bacteria in our guts.
Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are closely related to blueberries and bilberries. They are deep red in color and are characterized by their tart taste. They can be eaten raw, tossed in salads or blended in smoothies. Cranberry juice is one of the most preferred ways of consuming these scarlet berries. It is said that the juice obtained from cranberries was also used as a natural dye for blankets and clothing by Native Americans.
Although the majority of cranberries are grown in North America, cranberry products can be found across the world today. As more and more people are becoming aware of the health benefits associated with cranberry, new studies are focusing on a group of cranberry compounds called proanthocyanidins (PACs) that are able to inhibit attachment of harmful bacteria to cells that may prevent and help manage certain infections. According to a new well-designed clinical trial published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, drinking cranberry juice daily significantly suppressed H. pylori infections. The study included 522 H. pylori-positive adults between the ages of 18-60 who had never previously received antibiotic therapy for H. pylori infection. The participants consumed different amounts of cranberry juice, juice-based powder or their placebos daily for eight weeks. The results showed that consuming 240 ml of pure cranberry juice containing 44 mg of PAC twice a day for eight weeks reduced H. pylori infection rate by 20% compared to placebo.
(Also Read: 5 Best Cranberry Recipes To Try At Home)
The high global prevalence rate (80%) of H. pylori infection in developing countries has been a cause of concern among many health experts. More than 20 million people are estimated to suffer from peptic ulcer disease in India alone. While it cannot yet be viewed as an alternative to antibiotics, drinking cranberry juice daily could still be considered as an effective complementary strategy to help manage H. pylori infection, the study noted. If you are looking for options, you could try US Cranberries. The rich berries can be juiced, eaten in dried form or used to make a gamut of things. In addition to helping the gut, the wonder berries can help prevent urinary tract infections, reduce risk factors for heart disease and improve immunity.
(This feature story in partnership with US cranberries)
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