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Tart cherries and athlete recovery

Case study: Improved recovery of elite athletes through nutritional interventions containing tart Montmorency cherries

Staff: Professor Glyn Howatson, Dr Karen Keane, Dr Ian Walshe, Professor Emma Stevenson

Recovery from strenuous exercise is a priority for elite athletes. Northumbria University’s research into tart Montmorency cherries (TMC) showed that these functional foods facilitate athletic recovery and improve sleep. Through the delivery of practitioner professional development, the research shaped the English Institute of Sport’s nutritional guidelines used by all 22 performance nutritionists working with over 500 Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Professional international sports organisations (e.g., Grand Tour cycling teams, International Rugby Union) now routinely use TMC supplementation and attribute performance success to effective recovery enabled by the intervention during congested competition periods. Following the widespread change in nutritional practices in the UK and internationally, Northumbria’s research was incorporated into the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Consensus Statement on Dietary Supplements and the High-Performance Athlete, changing elite sports’ nutritional guidance worldwide. Find out more

Underpinning research

Glyn Howatson, McHugh, M.P., Hill, J., Brouner, J., Jewell, A., van Someren, K.A., Shave, R., and Howatson, S.A. (2010) ‘The effects of a tart cherry juice supplement on muscle damage, inflammation, oxidative stress and recovery following marathon runningScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 20: 843-852

Bell, P.B., Ian Walshe, Davison, G.W., Emma Stevenson, and Glyn Howatson (2014) ‘Inflammation and oxidative stress are attenuated following repeated days strenuous metabolic activity following cherry juice consumptionNutrients 6: 829-843

Bell, P.B., Ian Walshe, Davison, G.W., Emma Stevenson, and Glyn Howatson (2015) ‘Recovery facilitation with Montmorency cherries following high-intensity, metabolically challenging exerciseApplied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 40: 414-423

Bell, P.B., Emma Stevenson, Davison, G.W., and Glyn Howatson (2016) ‘The effects of Montmorency tart cherry concentrate supplementation on recovery following prolonged, intermittent exerciseNutrients 8: E441

Brown, M.A., Emma Stevenson, and Glyn Howatson (2018) ‘Montmorency tart cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) supplementation accelerates recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in femalesEuropean Journal of Sport Science 19 (1): 95-102

Glyn Howatson, Bell, P.G., Tallent, J., Middleton, B., McHugh, M.P., Ellis, J. (2012) ‘Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep qualityEuropean Journal of Nutrition 51: 909-916



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