NEW ZEALAND blackcurrant extract may offer significant benefits for helping athletes reduce the risk of gastro-intestinal stress during exercise in the heat.
In the study scientists also observed a large improvement to fat oxidation, with the cumulative evidence for blackcurrant anthocyanins now highlighting its ‘potent’ benefits for active people.
Twelve unacclimatised men took 600mg of New Zealand blackcurrant extract for seven days before performing 60 minutes of moderate-intensity treadmill running in hot ambient conditions (34°C, 40% humidity).
Exercise in the heat is one of the most severe demands athletes can place on the gastro-intestinal system.
Up to 90% of endurance athletes are affected by symptoms of gastrointestinal distress during exercise in the heat, which are in part caused by a redistribution in blood flow away from the gut, leading to a host of symptoms that, if left uncontrolled, can impair exercise performance and may even lead to more severe outcomes such as heat illness.
Early data from this blackcurrant study has found ‘robust evidence’ that blackcurrant anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties and reduce oxidative stress, help to reduce gastro-intestinal damage.
The findings are particularly relevant to ultra-marathon runners who compete at lower exercise intensities, and to endurance athletes who train in hot conditions.
Measurements were taken of intestinal fatty acid binding protein, a marker of enterocyte damage, at rest and 20, 60 and 240 minutes post-exercise.
Scientist: 'You could consider blackcurrant if you suffer from GI distress in the heat'
Results showed that participants on blackcurrant extract had a significant reduction in this marker of intestinal cell damage at each post-exercise time point, indicating blackcurrant helped maintain intestinal integrity.
University of Chichester Thermal Physiologist Dr Ben Lee, says: “There will be a full data set in 12 months, however at this stage of the analysis, it seems that blackcurrant helps maintain intestinal integrity. If you were due to compete in the heat, you could consider the use of blackcurrant in the week tapering before the event if you suffer from GI distress.”
Professor Mark Willems says: “We’re building a picture that New Zealand blackcurrant is potent in many aspects. This latest heat study is taking us into new territory with blackcurrant and with all the data we have so far, it’s proving potent in itself, compared to other anthocyanin-rich products.
“We are realising that it maybe the specific blackcurrant anthocyanin composition that is making this berry stand out from the others.”