If you’re looking to give your exercise performance a bit of a boost without doing anything dangerous, cucumber extract might just fit the bill.
According to a new study carried out by the independent clinical research organization QPS, people who took branded cucumber extract capsules twice a day had higher exercise performance, as well as improved immune supportive and anti-inflammatory markers, versus those who took a placebo.
In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, 24 healthy men with an average age of 42 were divided into two groups. One group took a placebo, while the other participants were given 150 milligrams of a propriety Gherkin extract known as Cuvitus.
The men were encouraged to continue with their daily routines, and they also carried out a uniform exercise routine. The researchers measured Visual Analog Scales for discomfort and pain before and after exercising, and they also took blood samples before and after exercising.
Not only did the group taking the gherkin supplement note significant improvements in their exercise performance, but they were also markedly better able to maintain their output when compared to the placebo group. They reached this conclusion after measuring the men’s ability to maintain their exercise performance across multiple sets.
Moreover, in their analysis of blood samples, they found that those who took the cucumber extract had significant changes in the inflammatory cytokine known as TNF-alpha, which helps to regulate immune cells. The gherkin group noted better recovery of the cytokine IL-6.
The director of QPS, Dr. Douglas Kalman, said that the supplement was an “exciting novel agent that may just prove out to be useful not only for the hard-working and training athlete, but the individual who also lives a stressful life and is looking to reduce ‘internal’ inflammation for better health.”
Their findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition and Health Sciences.
These results are very promising, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, the study was supported financially by the Swiss company who developed the supplement, Naturelea, SA, and its U.S. manufacturer and distributor, XSTO Solutions.
Another limitation is the fact that it only looked at acute delayed onset muscle soreness within a few hours of finishing the exercise sessions. This shorter time frame might not have been long enough to determine whether or not the cucumber extract supplement could impact perceived delayed onset muscle soreness.
Dr. Kalman said he’d like future studies to explore how the extract affects physiological and psychometric factors over a longer period of time, such as 72 hours, as well as a closer look at how the blood’s antioxidant status changes.
Cucumber’s many benefits
Cucumber’s benefits don’t end at enhancing exercise performance. You might already be familiar with its ability to brighten the complexion and reduce the effects of sunburn and bags under the eyes. However, its high fiber content also helps digestion and can prevent constipation. Cucumber is around 96 percent water, and that water is naturally purified, which means its quality is better than that of typical drinking water. Moreover, it’s a natural diuretic that can help prevent kidney stones.
In addition, it’s believed to be helpful against high cholesterol, intestinal parasites, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, edema and gout.
Cucumber is indeed very powerful, and its refreshing taste makes it pleasant to consume raw. Consider growing some in your garden so you’ll always have organic cucumbers on hand to chop up and dress simply with salt and apple cider vinegar for a healthy side dish.
While the supplement study points to some great possible benefits of cucumber extract for exercise, this is one vegetable that has already proven itself to be highly beneficial for your health.
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