Cranberries May Offer Natural Protection as Antibiotic Resistance Becomes a Major Public Health Concern

LAKEVILLE-MIDDLEBORO, Mass. -- Recent headlines suggesting consumers and doctors are doing everything they can to combat antibiotic resistance -- the immunity that bacteria develop to common prescriptions -- a natural alternative and household beverage just might be the ally they are looking for. Scientists have discovered that regular consumption of cranberry juice cocktail may offer protection against certain antibiotic resistant bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). Maintaining a healthy urinary tract with cranberry juice cocktail may reduce the need for antibiotics by preventing the initial infection.

Research conducted jointly between Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and the University of Michigan, suggests that regular consumption of cranberry juice cocktail could reduce the potential for development of UTIs, thus decreasing the need for antibiotics. In this study, scientists tested the effectiveness of cranberry juice cocktail in disabling a number of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, some of which are resistant to certain drugs.

E. coli bacteria are responsible for a host of health problems including urinary tract infections (UTIs) and have become increasingly resistant to certain drugs. Research shows that cranberries may provide an alternative to antibiotics especially in cases where E. coli bacteria have become resistant to treatment.

"With more and more awareness among health professionals and the public regarding antibiotic resistance, we are happy to report during our study when subjects consumed cranberry juice cocktail, their urine was capable of preventing antibiotic-resistant bacteria from adhering to cells from the urinary tract," said Amy B. Howell, PhD, research scientist at Rutgers, and lead investigator of the study.

Compounds in cranberries called proanthocyanidins (PACs) have been known to "disable" certain harmful bacteria in the body, helping to prevent infections. For example, in the case of urinary tract infections (UTIs), E. coli bacteria attach to bladder cells so that they can't multiply and cause an infection. According to a new study conducted by researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, cranberry PACs disable E. coli bacteria and prevent the microorganisms from causing infection by changing the shape of the bacteria from rods to spheres, altering their cell membrane, and making it difficult for bacteria to make contact with cells, or from latching onto them should they get close enough. Other data has suggested that this "anti-adhesion" mechanism of action found in cranberry PACs may also help prevent certain bacteria from adhering to the stomach and the mouth, with implications for the prevention stomach ulcers and dental diseases.

Cranberry PACs anti-adhesion activity is primarily due to their unique A-type structure. While most other foods contain only the more-common B-type PACs, it is cranberry's A-type PACs that are responsible for this anti-adhesion mechanism of action. Since cranberry PACs also function as antioxidants, they provide a dual anti-adhesion and antioxidant health benefit. With more PACs and antioxidants per gram than most fruit, cranberries ward off certain bacteria and bolster the body's defenses against free radical damage that can contribute to many chronic diseases including heart disease.

While cranberry juice cocktail is one way, there are a variety of ways to get the cranberry's anti-adhesion benefits. One eight-ounce glass of cranberry juice cocktail contains just as many PACs as a quarter cup of fresh or frozen cranberries, one-third cup of sweetened dried cranberries, or one-third cup of cranberry sauce.

Source: Ocean Spray

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