Sip Your Way to Happy Muscles: The Cherry Juice Secret!

Weekend athletes and everyday exercisers are no strangers to muscle soreness and its impact on workouts. However, research has uncovered a tasty fruit juice that can not only help ease muscle aches, but also reduce inflammation. The secret lies in tart cherry juice, which, according to a study at the Northumbria University in England, is capable of reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in muscle tissue.

The Science Behind Tart Cherry Juice

The research focused on cyclists who participated in intensive bicycling, revealing that consuming cherry juice could decrease inflammation by roughly 30 percent. Intense exercise creates inflammation and oxidative stress that can damage muscles, leave them feeling sore, and hinder the ability to recover from workouts, explains researcher Glyn Howatson. He further pointed out that natural substances in tart cherries, such as anthocyanins, aid the body in resisting these processes.

Other studies have investigated tart cherries and their impact on recovery following weight lifting exercise and marathon running, but information on recovery after strenuous cycling exercises had been limited. Howatson elaborated, “We found that those cyclists that consumed Montmorency tart cherry juice had statistically significant lower indices of inflammation and metabolic oxidative stress, which is the first time it has been demonstrated following this type of exercise.”

How Does It Compare To Medications?

It is not uncommon for athletes to turn to widely available nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen to manage sore muscles and inflammation. However, overuse of NSAIDs can lead to an increased risk of gastrointestinal issues, adverse cardiac events, and even kidney damage, making it crucial to seek out natural alternatives for pain relief and recovery.

This is where tart cherry juice shines, as it can provide similar benefits to NSAIDs without the associated risks. In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers discovered that ingesting tart cherry juice concentrate for seven days prior to and during a strenuous running event can minimize post-run muscle pain.

Additional Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice

Muscle recovery is not the only health benefit tart cherry juice offers; its potential reaches far beyond reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in athletes. Here are some other notable advantages of incorporating tart cherry juice into your diet:

Improved Sleep

Tart cherry juice contains a natural source of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. In a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, participants who consumed tart cherry juice concentrate for a week experienced significant improvements in the duration and quality of their sleep.

Enhanced Immune Function

Tart cherries are packed with antioxidants, which support the immune system and protect the body from cellular damage. A study in the Journal of Functional Foods found that Montmorency tart cherry juice significantly reduced oxidative stress in older adults and protected against age-related diseases.

Alleviated Symptoms of Arthritis and Gout

Due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties, tart cherry juice can also help alleviate symptoms of arthritis and gout. A study conducted by Boston University revealed that ingesting cherries or cherry extract could lower the risk of gout attacks. Moreover, the Arthritis Foundation suggests that tart cherry juice may minimize joint pain and stiffness in those with osteoarthritis.

When and How to Consume Tart Cherry Juice

To reap the health benefits of tart cherry juice, it is crucial to select the right product. Ensure that the juice is made from Montmorency tart cherries or a blend of other tart cherries, as opposed to the sweet cherry varieties, which contain fewer antioxidants and may not produce the same effects. Look for pure, unsweetened, 100% cherry juice without any additional sugars or artificial flavorings.

When consuming tart cherry juice for muscle recovery, it is helpful to have a glass within 30 to 60 minutes after a workout. For sleep improvement, consume a glass in the evening about an hour before bedtime. In general, drinking one to two glasses of tart cherry juice a day can provide a range of health benefits.

Although tart cherry juice can temporarily stain your teeth, this can be easily solved by drinking it through a straw or rinsing your mouth with water immediately after consumption. If you are taking medications or have a health condition, consult with your doctor before adding tart cherry juice to your daily routine.