Whenever I recover from an illness, whether a cold, virus, or whatever bug hit me last week, I re-examine my diet to see if there are any nutritional holes that caused my immune system to be overwhelmed. I consider my overall diet to be pretty good, although I probably should eat more vegetables daily. I eat plenty of fruit, protein, whole grains, dairy, fermented foods like yogurt and fermented vegetables, lots of water, and I take several supplements to help cover any deficiencies, but sometimes it’s obviously not enough. I get plenty of exercise, but I don’t think I get enough sleep. It’s something I need to attend to…..Speaking of nutrition, I see plenty of advertisements for fruit juices; cranberry, grape, cherry, pomegranate, grapefruit, etc. All fruit juice manufacturers make ‘improves one’s health’ claims for their products, but they don’t give you references to studies to back them up. A recent article in Nutrition Action Newsletter, 3/2012,  sums up the claims versus the facts. Keep in mind, if you decide to add fruit juices to your disease-fighting arsenal, prepare to add an inch or two to your midsection, as they are full of calories, and people tend not to compensate for them by eating less food. What’s more, like sodas, they can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. In the Nurses’ Health Study, women who drank an average of five servings of fruit juice per week had an 18 percent greater risk of developing diabetes than those women who drank 1 & 1/2 servings a week. This study was published in Diabetes Care 31: 1311, 2008. At any rate, let’s take a look at several juices. Cranberries: Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PACs), which prevent the little hairs on E. coli bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder, thus helping to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) IF you drink it within the first 10-12 hours after getting the infection, when the hairs are loosely bound. Can cranberry juice prevent infections? In four studies reviewed by the Cochrane Collaboration, men and women who drank cranberry juice for six months were 34 percent less likely to have a UTI than those who took a placebo. In a Finnish study, children who were assigned to drink a cup of cranberry juice every day for a year, had fewer UTIs and spent fewer days on antibiotics than similar children given a placebo drink. The bottom line: If you get recurring urinary tract infections, try 8 to 10 oz of cranberry juice every day. Make sure the brand contains at least 25 % cranberry juice, which is what the trials used. Pomegranate: Pomegranate juice has been touted for arterial health, prostate health, and for treating erectile dysfunction. To date, no human studies have demonstrated the benefits of pomegranate juice for any of the above. Berries: Every berry studied, whether blue, straw,  cran, and blackberries-has improved learning and memory in aging rats, but it’s too early to know whether they do the same in humans. Acai: Acai claims to regenerate muscles, bones, and blood, or help with weight loss. However, there are no good human studies supporting those claims. Noni: Treat cancer heart disease, and diabetes, say the folks at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is a part of the National Institutes of Health. They caution, however, “that noni has not been well-studied in people for any health condition.” Mangosteen: Claims that mangosteen juice boosts energy, kills pain, and lowers cholesterol have not been substantiated in human studies. Tart Cherries: The half-dozen studies in humans have looked at whether cherry juice can relieve muscle pain and reduce inflammation after exercise. All studies report less muscle soreness and less muscle loss after drinking 20 ounces of cherry juice before and after exercising for several days. If you are a serious athlete, this may be something to consider. However, make sure you can afford the extra calories. 16 to 24 ounces have roughly 300 to 400 calories. Personally, I only take pomegranate juice daily (6 oz) along with my turmeric powder and vitamins. Other than that, I’ll just eat a piece of fruit.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.