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Nitrates in Veggies Protect Stomach, but Antibacterial Mouthwash Harms It

Sunday, June 15, 2008 by: Joanne Waldron
Tags: nitrates, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) According to an Uppsala University press release, a Swedish researcher from the university's Department of Medical Cell Biology, Joel Petersson, believes that vegetables that are rich in nitrates can protect the stomach from damage. He feels that nitrate-rich vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, radishes and beetroot have a beneficial effect on the stomach by setting its mucous membranes' own protective enzymes into motion, thereby reducing the risk of gastric ulcers. Nitrates are first transformed into nitrites in the oral cavity and then are converted into biologically active nitric oxide in the stomach.

"Nitrates in food have long been erroneously linked to an increased risk of cancer," states Petersson. Note that the press release does not advise people to eat processed meats that have been cured with nitrates like bacon and ham. He believes that his research demonstrates the importance of fruits and vegetables, which contain naturally-occurring nitrates, in the diet. "If we followed the National Swedish Food Administration's recommendation and ate 500 g of fruit and vegetables per person per day," says Petersson, "it would definitely be better for our stomachs."

Petersson also believes that eating nitrate-rich vegetables will reduce one's risk of gastric ulcers. According to statistics published at MedicalNewsToday.com, about one in three adults is infected with H. pylori, and one in ten adults will develop a peptic ulcer. Eighty to ninety percent of ulcers are caused by an H. pylori infection. MedicalNewsToday.com also reports that H. pylori is contagious and is a class one carcinogen. (Even if an H. pylori-infected patient is treated with antibiotics, the patient could become re-infected if exposed to the bacterium through H. pylori-infected saliva.)

Petersson's research, which used animal models, also suggests that eating nitrate-rich foods may protect against the minor damage that often occurs in the gastrointestinal tract as a result of the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. "These sorts of drugs are very common in the event of pain and inflammation. They have the major disadvantage of causing a large number of serious side effects in the form of bleeding and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract," says Petersson. "With the aid of a nitrate-rich diet you can thus avoid such damage."

Another conclusion from Petersson's study is that antibacterial mouthwashes can kill the important bacteria that normally convert nitrates into nitrites. He performed a study with rats, where one group was given nitrate-rich feed, and the other group was given nitrate-rich feed with an oral antibacterial spray. Anti-inflammatory drugs were administered to both groups of the rats, but only the group which received the oral spray experienced damage to their mucous membranes.

There are several important messages from this research. First of all, eating nitrate-rich vegetables may help to protect the stomach and prevent gastric ulcers, as well as mitigate the damage from the ingestion of anti-inflammatory drugs. Secondly, the use of antibacterial mouthwashes is harmful to the stomach. Since the health of one's digestive system is very important to overall health and digestive diseases account for more hospitalizations of Americans than any other type of illness according to an article posted at Northwestern Health Sciences University, it may be wise to heed Petersson's advice.

About the author

Joanne Waldron is a computer scientist with a passion for writing and sharing health-related news and information with others. She hosts the Naked Wellness: The Gentle Health Revolution forum, which is devoted to achieving radiant health, well-being, and longevity.

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