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  • A recent study reveals that natural sugars found in fruit juice appear to support physical recovery after exercise
  • Cloudy apple juice was found to recover the intestinal barrier function more quickly than other drinks – this helps to support recovery
  • The body’s stress makers reduced more quickly in recovery after drinking fruit juice when compared with other beverages
  • The study, led by Dr Patrick Diel, shines a light on the potential health benefits of fruit juice for fitness enthusiasts

Drinking fruit juice could help the body recover more quickly after intense physical activity such as long-distance running, according to a new study.

The peer-reviewed study, published in international journal, Nutrients, found that while added sugars can have a negative impact on the intestinal barrier after exercise, the naturally occurring sugars and polyphenols (plant compounds) found in fruit juice seem to support a more balanced recovery.

While it’s common to reach for a sugary sports drink during or after exercise, scientists have known for some time that added sugars can cause problems with the intestinal barrier – a critical part of our immune defence. A leaky intestinal barrier can lead to harmful bacteria crossing from the gut into the blood which stimulates inflammation. This, then, increases the risk of overtraining syndrome and metabolic conditions such as endotoxemia – where the body has a toxic reaction to bacteria.

The study, led by Dr Patrick Diel, was set up to find out whether fruit juices caused the same inflammatory effect as sugar-sweetened drinks.

The researchers looked at the gut health of runners before and after an ultramarathon. They compared the impact of drinking diluted cloudy apple juice with a test drink which mimicked a typical sugary sports drink. This contained identical amounts of sugar but not the polyphenols and other fruit complexes naturally found in juice.

The researchers found that, while both exercise and sugars can disrupt the intestinal barrier, the natural compounds found in fruit juice eased these effects*. Runners who drank the cloudy apple juice after the race recovered their intestinal barrier function more quickly than those who drank the sugar-sweetened test drink*.

Another part of the study on amateur runners found that drinking diluted cloudy apple juice after running influenced a protein called CD14 suggesting that the juice supported the body’s immune system. Furthermore, the study showed that runners who drank fruit juice reduced their stress markers more quickly compared with those who drank the sugar-sweetened test drink.

Dr Patrick Diel from German Sport University in Cologne, said: “The research comes at a timely moment for anyone inspired to get more active in the run up to the Olympic games, and these findings offer a fresh perspective how to best replenish our bodies. Simply diluting cloudy apple juice and drinking it after playing sports or exercising seems to be an easy and healthy option which supports both gut health and immune function”.

Award-winning dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton said: “To properly recover after exercise, our bodies need healthy carbohydrates. In light of these findings, I would encourage athletes, fitness enthusiasts and causal gym-goers to add a serving of around 150ml of cloudy apple juice to their sports bottle and top up with tap water for a low cost and effective sports drink. Not only will this mixture keep us hydrated, it also provides energy-giving natural sugars and polyphenols to promote optimal recovery.”

As with any dietary change, it is important to drink juice in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. However, these studies suggest that when it comes to supporting the body after an Olympic-inspired workout, cloudy apple juice is the perfect health hack.

*Valder, S. et al. Effect of Sugar- and Polyphenol-Rich, Diluted Cloudy Apple Juice on the Intestinal Barrier after Moderate Endurance Exercise and in Ultra-Marathon Runners. Nutrients 2024, 16, 1353. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16091353

Based on provisional results, AGRANA generated operating profit (EBIT) of € 151.0 million in its 2023/24 financial year (1 March 2023 to 29 February 2024), which is in line with its guidance of a very significant improvement compared to the prior year (2022/23: € 88.3 million). Earnings per share rose to € 1.04 (prior year: € 0.25).

Consolidated revenue amounted to € 3,786.9 million (prior year: € 3,637.4 million).

As previously communicated in the Q3 results published in January 2024, AGRANA sees itself confronted with an increasingly challenging business environment since the fourth quarter of 2023/24 and forecasts EBIT for the 2024/25 financial year which will be significantly below the comparable figure in 2023/24. This decline in results will already become apparent in the first quarter of 2024/25.

The Management Board of AGRANA Beteiligungs-AG has today also decided – subject to a corresponding resolution passed by the Supervisory Board – to propose a dividend payout in the amount of € 0.90 per share for the 2023/24 financial year (dividend for 2022/23: € 0.90 per share) to the 37th Annual General Meeting to be held on 5 July 2024. This corresponds to a dividend yield of 6.7 % based on the closing price on the balance sheet date (29 February 2024).

The publication of the Annual Report 2023/24 and all the details relating to the annual results for 2023/24 and to the outlook for 2024/25 will take place as scheduled on 14 May 2024.