A glass of tomato juice makes exercise even more healthy
Exercise is healthy – no discussion there – but intensive physical exercise increases the production of aggressive molecules that can damage our genetic material. Researchers at Stockholm University discovered that it's possible to reduce the potentially damaging effects of exercise by getting subjects to drink a glass of tomato juice every day.
During bouts of intensive exercise cells make oxygen radicals, which are capable of damaging our DNA. You can see this damage in the blood. The higher the level of 8-oxodG – a DNA base pair damaged by oxygen radicals – in the blood, the more damage the cells have had to repair.
Moderately intensive exercise reduces the concentration of 8-oxodG in the urine, but intensive exercise increases it. A while ago we wrote about Spanish experiments in which extracts of Phlebodium decumanum reduced genetic damage in runners.
The Swedish study, which will be published soon in Nutrition, suggests that common-or-garden tomato juice has a similar effect.
The researchers got 15 healthy men and women, who were not athletes, to cycle for 20 minutes at 80 percent of their maximal heart rate. The researchers then measured the concentration of 8-oxodG in the blood of their test subjects.
The experiment was carried out under two different sets of conditions. On one occasion the subjects were asked to cycle after having drunk one 150 ml glass of tomato juice every day for five weeks. And the researchers also got the subjects to cycle once after a period of five weeks during which they had not drunk a glass of tomato juice every day.
One glass of tomato juice contains 15 mg lycopene [structural formula shown above]. Epidemiological studies have shown that a diet containing high levels of lycopene reduces the chance of developing prostate cancer, and experiments have shown that lycopene also rejuvenates the skin. Tomato juice also contains forms of vitamin E, vitamin C and polyphenols.
The table below shows that tomato juice supplementation virtually eliminated the rise in 8-oxodG caused by exercise.
The research was not funded by a tomato-growers' association but by the EU.
Nutr J. 2012 May 2;11:29.
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