Two Pints are Better Than One

October 27, 2011

Eva Gusnowski

Your stomach deals with a lot: high levels of acid, that questionable shrimp from last week, Snooki’s unmentionables flashing all over the television. But now there might be a way to give your hard-working stomach a little bit of help.


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The gastrointestinal lining is subjected to all kinds of damage-inducing agents during everyday life. Not only is your stomach acid extremely damaging (its an acid, what did you expect?), bacteria are constantly trying to work their way in, and digestion results in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which damage cells and DNA and are linked to the development of stomach ulcers. Ethanol is particularly nasty, and can result in the formation of noxious compounds. (Sorry winos)

The body does have some defenses, and the stomach and GI tract are lined with a thick layer of protective mucus that acts as a barrier against all of these nasty things. Also, phenolic compounds that are in some foods can also play a protective role through their antioxidant capabilities. We all knew antioxidants were good for us, so where can we get some?

Introducing the strawberry. You might know it from your local supermarket as the buxom red beauty in the fruit section. Strawberries are extremely high in phenolic compounds and are delicious to boot. People have been consuming strawberries and champagne for years; did they know something more than the rest of us?

No, they didn’t.

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But a new study in rats is showing us just how great strawberries are at protecting us against ROS damage from ethanol. The researchers gave strawberry extract to rats before administering ethanol, which normally results in stomach lesions. Lo and behold, the strawberry extracts prevented the lesions from forming.  Additionally, the amount of ROS molecules was significantly reduced, suggesting it was the antioxidant effect that can protect the stomach.

So let’s down a pint of strawberries and crack open the bubbly…a new season of Science in Seconds is just beginning.


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