Cherries Improve Gut Health
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
Cherries for gout, cherries for gut health. While Montmorency tart cherries have a reputation as both a gout and sleep remedy – it turns out they can actually play a major role in improving gut health.
An international team of scientists has discovered that Montmorency tart cherries – the kind that make exquisite cherry pies – have a positive impact on the gut microbiome. Microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in the intestines. The microbiome is the hottest research trend today because it is now believed that the gut acts as one of the strongest parts of our immune system and impacts our behavior since the microbes among us can act as a “second brain.” It is also offered that the microbiome determines much of heart health, blood sugar control, weight and brain health.
Tart cherries are top fruit for antioxidants – But in a first-of-its kind study, a human trial of nine adults was combined with a parallel laboratory study (Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry) to explore just how much cherries could be a gut-friendly food. The results of the study hold an interesting surprise.
Weber Shandwick Chicago reports:
While previous studies on Montmorency tart cherries have ranged from heart health and exercise recovery to sleep, this is the first study to explore the potential gut health benefits. The researchers speculate that it may be due to the polyphenols (anthocyanins and other flavonoids) in Montmorency tart cherries, the varietal of tart cherries grown in the U.S. Polyphenols in plant-based foods are broken down by microbes to stimulate growth of good bacteria.
“Montmorency tart cherries were a logical food to study due to their unique composition of polyphenols, including chlorogenic acids,” said principal investigator Franck Carbonero, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science at the University of Arkansas. “Our results suggest that the unique polyphenol mixture in tart cherries may help positively shape the gut microbiome, which could potentially have far-reaching health implications.”
Want to know the amazing part? This study was done using tart cherry juice from concentrate!
The report cont.,
…In the human trial, nine healthy adults, 23-30 years old, drank 8 ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice (from concentrate) daily for five days. These individuals were non-smokers and had not taken antibiotics (which can affect the microbiome) in the 12 weeks prior and during the study. Using stool samples, the participants’ microbiome was analyzed before and after the dietary intervention, and food frequency questionnaires were used to evaluate their overall diet.
The lab study, however, tried to mimic the human digestive process and tested how polyphenols would break down in three different regions of the intestines, such as the colon.
The researchers tested U.S.-grown Montmorency tart cherries, European tart cherries, sweet cherries, apricots and isolated polyphenols in each simulated region of the digestive tract. They analyzed changes in the mix of bacteria and how these bacteria helped digest the polyphenols over time.
Just five days of drinking the juice significantly increased the good gut bacteria of participants in the trial.
But before you waste your money on a supplement – read this!
Everyone’s microbiome is different so the cherry juice affected everyone’s gut health differently.
Those who had the healthiest diets (loaded with vegetables, fruit, complex carbohydrates) received the most benefit from tart cherry concentrate. They could process the polyphenols and their guts showed an increase in Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium, probably due to the specific combination of polysaccharides and polyphenols.
Those who had a SAD diet (typical Western foods – fried, sugary, low in fiber, etc.) had a lower ability to metabolize polyphenols and therefore, lower bioavailability of the good stuff. Strangely, “instead of Bifidobacterium, Collinsella were the beneficial polyphenol-degrading bacteria stimulated.”
It sounds like someone would be much better off improving their diet before adding tart cherry concentrate to the mix. Some people like to add these concentrates to sparkling water. If you decide to try it, black cherry and grape taste better than tart cherry when added to carbonated water. Nothing beats eating the fruits themselves. Of course, there’s no harm to the occasional piece of homemade pie, given the power of fruit. There are even amazing paleo recipes you can follow!
Do any of you add cherries to your diet or supplement regimen? If so, what were the results? Sound-off below!
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Heather Callaghan is an Energy Healer, consultant, independent researcher/writer, speaker and food & health freedom advocate. She is the Editor and co-founder of NaturalBlaze as well as a certified Self-Referencing IITM Practitioner. She has written over 1,200 articles and wants readers to empower themselves to take back their health!