Can Grape Juice Prevent the Flu?

At Best Food Facts we are always looking into new studies, recipes and, of course, food myths. Recently we heard on the radio about grape juice saying that:

“if you come in contact with someone with the stomach flu and you believe you have been contaminated, you should drink three glasses of grape juice for a day and you will prevent any illness from coming on. The rationale to this was that grape juice changes the PH levels in your system to keep the bacteria from multiplying and making you very ill.”

….so we reached out to our experts to find out more! Jen Haugen and Connie Diekman, both registered dietitians, and Best Food Facts registered dietitian Sarah Downs helped weigh in to determine if this was a fact or a myth.

Jen Haugen:

Our digestive tracts are our first line of defense with these winter viruses and keeping that tract strong and healthy is key. To keep the tract clean and tidy, make sure to eat fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, at every meal. Eating these specific foods boosts fiber and fiber acts as a broom cleaning out what doesn’t belong. Unfortunately, while 100 percent grape juice is a good choice, during the juicing process, the fiber is lost. It does, however, contain high amounts of vitamins, which are essential to a healthy immune system. So it’s perfectly fine to incorporate 100 percent grape juice into your eating pattern. Another recommendation is to include foods that have active cultures for the good bacteria to eat. These are cultured and fermented foods like yogurt (both low-fat and Greek-style) and kefir.

Sarah Downs:

While it’s always best to consume the whole fruit, 100 percent juice can be a healthy beverage choice if consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Be sure that the juice you choose not only says 100 percent juice, but that the first ingredient listed is juice and that there are not any additions of juice cocktail or added sugars. Some labels may say they provide 100 percent of a certain nutrient, but unless the package also states it is 100 percent juice, it is not 100 percent juice.

It is recommended that adults consume no more than six to 12 ounces of 100 percent juice per day and four ounces per day for children ages one through six.

Connie Diekman:

Grape juice, just like grapes, contains a wide variety of phytonutrients, which act to promote health. It also is a source of simple sugar, which provides quick energy. Grape juice can aid hydration and the phytonutrients can help the body fight a variety of illnesses as a part of an overall healthful eating plan. 

The research on pH has been predominantly with cranberries, which contain polyphenols just like grape juice does. Research seems to indicate that polyphenols can help prevent bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract, helping prevent urinary tract infections; evidence in the GI tract is less clear. Juices can be a part of a healthy eating plan but of course, like most foods, portions matter.

What can people do to help prevent getting the flu?

Jen Haugen:

Handwashing, not sharing eating utensils, disinfecting surfaces and distancing one’s self from the person infected are your best bets.

Connie Diekman:

Fighting the flu or any other contagious disease is about a healthy body, good hygiene — and probably a bit of luck. Smart steps, if you’ve been exposed to the flu, include washing hands, keeping hands away from your face, staying hydrated and, to keep others safe, covering your mouth when coughing.

Bottom Line:

The Centers for Disease Control recommends a few tips to stay healthy this season:

1. Avoid close contact with those who are sick

2. Stay home when you are sick

3. Cover your mouth and nose

4. Clean your hands

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

6. Practice other good health habits. This includes getting adequate sleep, staying physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious foods.

The image “grape juice, we did it” by Mi Mitrika is licensed under CC BY NC-ND 2.0.