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Cranberry and Probiotics May Fight Bacteria in Children

True or false: Stress causes stomach ulcers? The answer may surprise you!

In 2005, Doctors Barry Marshall and J. Robin Warren won the Nobel Prize for discovering that bacterial infections--specifically, H pylori infections--caused stomach ulcers. In fact, about 90% of ulcers are caused by this dangerous bacteria.

Two of the more popular natural solutions to help stop the colonization of H pylori bacteria are cranberry extract and probiotics (friendly bacteria that aide in digestion and fight bad bacteria). A recent study published by scientists in Chile shows that taken together, the two could be even more powerful against H pylori.

In the study, scientists recruited 295 children who tested positive for the bacteria but showed no symptoms. They were divided into four groups that received (i) cranberry juice and probiotic supplement (ii) placebo juice and probiotic supplement (iii) cranberry juice and a placebo pill or (iv) placebo juice and a placebo pill.

The children in each group were administered a daily dose for three weeks and then tested again for the H. pylori bacteria.

The study appears in the May 2008 issue of Nutrition and found that the group with the largest reduction in H. pylori was the cranberry and probiotic group, where participants saw a 22.9% reduction of the bacteria. The group that received only cranberry juice saw a 16.9% reduction and the group that received only a probiotic saw a 14.9% reduction.

H. pylori colonizes in your stomach and drills itself into a thin layer of mucus that lines your stomach walls. From there it multiplies and wreaks havoc on your digestive system. What's worse, this dangerous bacteria has also been linked to cancer, acid reflux and inflammation of the stomach.

These results may provide hope for the millions suffering from digestive problems as a result of an H pylori infection. They also add to a growing number benefits associated with both cranberries and probiotics.

Cranberry has been used for centuries to reduce the risk and severity of urinary tract infections. Probiotics have become more popular in recent years as a result of mounting research showing their widespread health benefits. They have been shown to promote healthy digestion, overcome bad bacteria and boost the immune system.

Source: Nutrition (Elsevier)
May 2008, Volume 24, Issue 5, Pages 421-426
"Modulation of Helicobacter pylori colonization with cranberry juice and Lactobacillus johnsonii La1 in children"
Authors: Martin Gotteland, M. Andrews, M. Toledo, L. Munoz, P. Caceres, A. Anziani, E. Wittig, H. Speisky, G. Salazar
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