Can red grapes and blue berries enhance immunity?

Here’s another reason to start snacking on blueberries and red grapes! The tasty fruits not only prevent problems like heart disease,

diabetes, inflammation and ageing but also boost the immune system, claims a new study.

According to experts, the chemical compounds found in blueberries and red grapes can strengthen immunity. The researchers found that resveratrol in grapes, and pterostilbene in blueberries have the potential to enhance the natural immune system in people.

Apparently, the compounds called stilbenoids( produced by plants to fight infections) confer benefits especially when they combine with vitamin D.

In fact a laboratory experiment showed that resveratrol and pterostilbene in conjunction with “sunshine vitamin” has a significant biological impact. The potent combination helped raise the expression of the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, or CAMP gene, which is tied in antimicrobial activities and inflammatory response regulations.

446 compounds analyzed

In order to get some insight into the mechanism, the researchers screened 446 compounds for their immune system activity in humans. The analysis singled out resveratrol and pterostilbene in red grapes and blueberries respectively.

Principal investigator and associate professor Adrian Gombart in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University stated, “Out of the hundreds of compounds, just these two popped right out. Their synergy with vitamin D was significant and intriguing. It’s a pretty interesting interaction.”

A word of caution

Experts theorize the findings could pave the way for the development of therapeutically useful natural compounds which could help enhance the inborn immune response in people.

However, given that the experiments were conducted in laboratory cell cultures, the scientists feel its rather premature to conclude that similar results would occur if these foods were added to one’s dietary intake. According to them, further studies are needed to substantiate the findings.

Dr Emma Smith from CancerResearch UK warned, “Red wine only contains very small amounts of resveratrol and people shouldn’t drink wine in an attempt to get any health benefits. It’s important to remember that, even in moderate amounts, alcohol increases the risk of several cancers and has been estimated to cause around 12,500 cases of cancer a year in the UK.”

The research, published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, was supported by the National Institutes of Health.