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Strawberries Believed to Protect the Stomach from Alcohol Induced Ulcers

Tim Boyer's picture

A recent study shows that a concentrated extract of strawberries prevented ulcer damage to the stomach lining of rats that were fed alcohol. Scientists believe that a diet rich in strawberries may be used to protect humans from stomach ulcers that result from a number of gastric diseases including ulcers derived from drinking too much alcohol.

Collaborating European scientists have recently discovered that when rats are fed a strawberry extract, that the strawberry extract’s antioxidant properties protects the stomach lining from ulcer damage following the feeding of ethyl alcohol (ethanol) to the rats.

From previous studies, scientists have discovered that the causes of some gastrointestinal disorders are associated with the presence of free radicals. Furthermore, strawberries are known as a fruit that has a high content of nutrients and phytochemicals that are believed to possess antioxidant properties that can counter the ill effects of free radicals.

The purpose of the recent rat study by researchers was to investigate the protective properties of strawberry extracts on the stomach mucosa of rats from alcohol induced ulceration. The researchers wanted to determine whether strawberries possessed the necessary antioxidants that could protect the gastric mucosa lining of experimental rats from alcohol damage.

In the study, rats were fed 40 milligrams per day per kilogram of bodyweight of a strawberry extract for 10 days before being fed an alcohol diet that is known to cause severe gastric damage to the stomach mucosa. After the rats were fed the alcohol diet, antioxidant enzyme levels and other biochemical measurements were made followed by analysis of the condition of the stomach lining of the treated rats.

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What the researchers found was that the strawberry extract’s antioxidant enzyme activities increased significantly after the rats were fed the strawberry extract; and, that their stomach linings were protected from significant ulcer damage due to alcohol’s normally damaging effects.

Sara Tulipani, a researcher at the University of Barcelona and co-author of the study published in the current issue of the scientific journal PLoS One, reportedly stated following the rat study that, "the positive effects of strawberries are not only linked to their antioxidant capacity and high content of phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins, but also to the fact that they activate the antioxidant defenses and enzymes of the body."

Anthocyanins are compounds found in berry-producing plants such as strawberries, blackberries and black currants, which are known to possess powerful antioxidant properties. Anthocyanins are responsible for some of the pigmentation found in plants; and, next to chlorophyll, are the most important group of plant pigments visible to the human eye.

The authors of the paper concluded that strawberry extracts prevented exogenous ethanol-induced damage to the rats' gastric mucosa and that the effects appear to be associated with the antioxidant activity content in the strawberry extract as well as with the capacity of promoting the action of antioxidant enzymes in the stomach lining. They propose that a diet rich in strawberries may exert a beneficial effect in the prevention of gastric diseases related to the generation of reactive oxygen species found in gastric disorders.

The importance of their findings is that strawberries have the potential to be used to slow down or prevent the formation of stomach ulcers in humans due to numerous causes such as alcohol consumption, viral infection, H. pylori bacterial infection and aspirin-induced stomach ulceration.

Future studies in human clinical trials will focus on a direct application of strawberry extracts on treating gastric disorders.
Source: PLoS ONE 6(10): e25878. doi:10.1371