A new research review, published in Frontiers in Immunology, has found that a glass of citrus juice contains key nutrients and bioactive substances that help human immune systems work efficiently.
Scientists examined evidence from nearly 200 different studies and reports. They concluded that vitamin C, folate and polyphenol compounds in citrus juice can impact immune health, fight inflammation and improve defense against bacteria and viruses.
“A weak immune system increases susceptibility to infections and allows these to become more severe,” said co-author Philip Calder, professor of nutritional immunology at Southampton University. “One component of the immune response is inflammation. Where inflammation is excessive or uncontrolled it can damage body tissues, sometimes irreparably, and affect our ability to fight infections. Having a diet rich in antioxidant foods and drinks is one way to control inflammation and ensure the body can mount an effective immune response. Trials in humans confirm that orange juice consumption reduces inflammation.”
Calder added that citrus fruit juices are particularly good sources of vitamin C and folate, which have roles in strengthening the gut and skin barriers. He called those barriers “our first line of defense against viruses and bacteria.” He added that vitamin C and folate, which are absorbed well from fruit juices, support the function of many types of immune cells.
“Another area of research is the bioactive polyphenols found in citrus fruit juices, which include hesperidin, narirutin and naringin,” Calder said. “These not only have anti-inflammatory effects but could also have direct anti-viral effects according to emerging data from modelling studies.”
Carrie Ruxton, chair of the Scientific Expert Panel at the Fruit Juice Science Centre, said evidence about the positive role that fruit juices play in the diet continues to build. “We know from several large studies that a daily glass of pure fruit juice provides vitamin C, folate and potassium, can help to lower blood pressure, and reduces the risk of stroke,” Ruxton said. “Now it’s clear that citrus juices can also contribute to immune health, which is crucial as we all get back to our normal lives.”
The Fruit Juice Science Centre is a science information body funded by donations from a wide range of orange producers, juice manufacturers and packaging companies based in Europe and Brazil.
Source: The Fruit Juice Science Centre
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