IF you’re looking to include immune-boosting foods and supplements in your diet, then blackcurrants are an excellent choice, with recent studies highlighting they can prevent “opportunistic infections”, which include circulating seasonal viruses and bacteria.
A natural supplement such as blackcurrant extract, which has no side effects, is also particularly good for the elderly, who often have weakened immune systems.
Not only do blackcurrant anthocyanins improve multiple first-line mucosal3 and immune1 defences, but they help control harmful oxidative stress that spikes with influenza infections. Here, we explain the science underpinning this super-berry in greater detail.
Blackcurrant arms multiple first-line defences
Last year New Zealand researchers confirmed that New Zealand blackcurrant extract, a natural antioxidant, enhanced immune factors that underpin the body’s all-important first-line defences1.
The study tested people aged 20 to 60 and found that even just one dose of 34% New Zealand blackcurrant extract (in doses equivalent to one AND two capsules of CurraNZ) improved circulating ‘neutrophils’ or white blood cells, which play a very important role in our innate immune system.
Neutrophils circulate in the bloodstream and are the first cells to migrate to the site of infection to begin killing the invading ‘baddies’.
The study measured neutrophils in response to a strenuous exercise challenge, which has the effect of impairing white blood cell activity. Without blackcurrant, individuals saw a drop in their immunity as their levels declined as expected. However, those who took blackcurrant maintained their immune markers at a ‘normal’ level.
Blackcurrant’s potent antioxidants help protect healthy cells against oxidative attackers
The 2019 study1 also measured oxidative stress, which attacks healthy cells (see image left) and dramatically spikes with bacterial and viral infections.
Influenza infections also trigger a large oxidative stress response in the body and has been implicated in lung tissue injury and increased susceptibility to secondary infections2.
As a potent antioxidant, blackcurrant can be hugely effective in reducing oxdative stress - this study, using strenuous exercise as a generating model, showed that just one dose of extract reduced it by 34%.
Plus, the NZ researchers have found that the longer you take blackcurrant, the greater its impact on the management of oxidative stress3.
Along with being closely involved with inflammatory, tissue repair and immune responses, blackcurrant extract not only enhanced neutrophil activity but also stimulated the body’s receptors that trigger removal of pathogenic invaders in the system.
Long-term daily intake is even more beneficial
Just a few weeks ago, the same research group published another study showing the effect of five weeks’ daily consumption blackcurrant extract on inflammation and oxidative stress3.
Again, they used exercise as a stress-generating model to test the berry in regulating acute responses, which also occur with viral and bacterial infections.
They found higher doses of blackcurrant extract promoted protective events in the body, concluding: “Daily consumption of blackcurrant for five weeks could result in the activation of cellular pathways which contribute to a change in the anti-inflammatory/antioxidant cell microenvironment that further limits cell stress and damage and maintains and facilitates cell and tissue function.”
The good news didn’t stop there either, with blackcurrant enhancing other important immune factors that are depleted by oxidative stress – namely, salivary and mucosal defences, which are natural barriers to prevent air-borne infections from entering the body4,5.
How much CurraNZ New Zealand blackcurrant extract do you need to take?
To receive the equivalent amount of CurraNZ based on the dosing levels used in these studies, observe the following:
- One-two capsules for those weighing up to 65kg
- Two-three capsules if 65kg-98.5kg
- Three-four capsule 98.5kg or more.
Capsules can be split morning and night and daily dosing is recommended.
- R. Hurst et al “Consumption of an Anthocyanin-Rich Extract Made From New Zealand Blackcurrants Prior to Exercise May Assist Recovery From Oxidative Stress and Maintains Circulating Neutrophil Function: A Pilot Study” Frontiers In Nutrition (2019)
- A Ivanov et al, “Oxidative Stress in Infection and Consequent Disease” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity (2017)
- R. Hurst et al “Daily Consumption of an Anthocyanin-Rich Extract Made From New Zealand Blackcurrants for 5 Weeks Supports Exercise Recovery Through the Management of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation: A Randomized Placebo Controlled Pilot Study” Frontiers in Nutrition (2020)
- A Rodriguez “Role of IgA in the defense against respiratory infections: IgA deficient mice exhibited increased susceptibility to intranasal infection with Mycobacterium bovisBCG.” Vaccine, (2004)
- A Chorny et al “Regulation and Function of Mucosal IgA and IgD” Molecular Medical Microbiology (2015)