Drinking grape juice to prevent stomach flu is not proven

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The Claim: Drinking Grape Juice Daily Prevents Stomach Flu

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the onset of flu season, some people have turned to unproven home remedies to stay healthy.

A Facebook user claims that drinking grape juice will prevent or treat norovirus, also known as “stomach flu,” a contagious disease that causes vomiting and diarrhea.

“It’s that time of year … I make my family drink grape juice every day until March,” read a September 13 Facebook post that racked up 6,900 halves. weeks. “Just a few sips a day. It prevents the stomach virus from attaching to your digestive system if you are exposed to the virus.

The claim that grape juice can treat or prevent stomach flu has been circulating for years on various parenting blogs and usually resurfaces in the fall and winter.

However, there is no evidence that drinking grape juice can prevent or cure norovirus, according to experts who spoke to USA TODAY. Many fact-checkers, news sites, and health experts have debunked this claim. To avoid getting sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages hand washing, disinfection of contaminated surfaces, and thorough washing of food and laundry.

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USA TODAY has contacted the social media user who shared the post for comment.

No evidence to support a grape juice remedy

Experts and research dating back to the 1970s indicate that drinking grape juice is not a proven way to treat or prevent stomach flu.

Bethany Doerfler, a clinical research dietitian in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Northwestern University School of Medicine, said that although the phenolic compounds in fruit juices have natural antiviral properties, the Most of the studies have been done in animals or cell cultures, not humans.

“To date, no human studies have been done, so we completely lack (the) ability to recommend dose or frequency,” Doerfler said via email. “It’s safe to drink grape juice as a preventative, and it’s part of a healthy diet, but the claim that a few sips a day is protective is not based on evidence. ”

Doerfler pointed to a 2014 study, which found that “no norovirus-specific medication or antiviral vaccine” is available for norovirus. The researchers found that although foods containing flavonoids and polyphenols have anti-norovirus activity, “further studies will be needed to confirm the efficacy of these compounds against human noroviruses.”

Another study published in 1978 in the Journal of Food Protection looked specifically at the antiviral properties of grape juice and found that it “has not been shown to prevent or modify human enterovirus infections” . More recently, a 2010 article published in Nutrition Reviews found that compounds in grapes may have a positive effect on risk factors associated with cardiovascular health, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. .

However, no human clinical trials have been conducted on antiviral activity and grape juice.

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Linda Van Horn, professor of preventive medicine in epidemiology at Northwestern University, said in an email that while 100% fruit juices offer many beneficial nutrients, “prevention of stomach flu or whatever is n ‘is not proven “.

Likewise, Dr Richard Martinello, infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Yale Medicine, said that it is “incorrect for anyone to conclude that drinking grape juice, eating grapes, drinking wine or eating a grape product will provide any benefit.

“In no way (would) any competent clinician suggest the use of grape juice to prevent or treat influenza, or any grape product for that matter,” Martinello said.

Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling items that may be contaminated with COVID-19, even if you are using gloves.

Health officials recommend food safety, hand washing

There is no vaccine for noroviruses, but health officials recommend hand washing and other preventative measures to avoid getting sick.

Practicing good hand hygiene, preparing food safely, thoroughly cleaning surfaces, utensils and counters, and washing laundry can prevent norovirus infection, according to the CDC.

The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding contaminated food and water, avoiding travel, staying home after work, and cooking seafood well.

The best drinks to drink for stomach flu are clear liquids, decaffeinated herbal teas, electrolyte replacements, and ice cubes, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we deem the claim that daily consumption of grape juice prevents stomach flu to be FALSE. Health experts claim that while grape juice contains beneficial nutrients, its use to treat or prevent stomach flu is unproven. There is no scientific evidence to support the claim. Safe hand washing, surface cleaning and food preparation are recommended to prevent norovirus.

Our sources of fact-checking:

  • Bethany Doerfler, September 23, email exchange with USA TODAY
  • Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, November 20, 2014, Inactivation of noroviruses and substitutes by natural phytochemicals and bioactive substances
  • J Power supply Prot. February 1979, Antiviral efficacy of grape juice
  • Nutrition Reviews, November 1, 2010, Biomedical Effects of Grape Products
  • Healthline, May 7, 2020, Grape Juice Doesn’t Fight Stomach Bug – Here’s Why
  • Linda Van Horn, September 22, email exchange with USA TODAY
  • Richard Martinello, September 22, telephone interview with USA TODAY
  • Clinical Infectious Diseases, June 15, 2014, The State of Norovirus Vaccines
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 5, Norovirus Prevention
  • Mayo Clinic, consulted September 23, Norovirus infection
  • Cleveland Clinic, September 28, 2020, What to eat, drink and avoid when you have stomach flu

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Our fact-checking work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.


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