Provexis optimism on future sports nutrition health claim for tomato extract

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23 Oct 2018 --- Provexis’ patented tomato extract has increasingly moved into sports nutrition applications, with Niamh O’Kennedy, Director of R&D, noting she is “optimistic” for a future sports nutrition health claim. DSM markets Provexis' tomato extract as Fruitflow, which has over 30 platelet compounds and is said to counteract the adverse effects of over-exercise on inflammation. Such effects of exercise are not understood enough by those who perform at high levels, such as professional athletes and marathon runners, O’Kennedy explained at the Food Valley Summit, held in Wageningen, the Netherlands on October 10th.

“Platelets are not only related to heart health. Platelets are a mirror of your lifestyle. For this reason, we look at other areas in which platelets can be important. Not all exercise is good for you when it comes to overall and lifelong health. Intense exercise affects your blood platelets negatively,” explained O’Kennedy.

Click to Enlarge
Niamh O’Kennedy, Director of R&D at Provexis speaking
at the Food Valley Summit in Wageningen, the Netherlands.

“Once blood platelets are activated, as they are part of the inflammation and immune system, the intense inflammation this triggers can lead to ‘stickier platelets,’ more coagulation and a higher rate of systemic inflammation. This is not adaptation based inflammation; this is low-grade chronic inflammation which is a load for the body to carry,” she added.

Such adverse effects can be activated very soon after intense exercise and the system may remain activated for 48 hours. One large effect that comes with this process is a reduction in the body’s capacity to recover.

O’Kennedy noted a recent study in which Fruitflow was tested on a range of athletes, from rowers to recreational athletes, to gauge how exercise affects platelets.

“We used different types of exercises to get the effect in trained athletes versus the effects in the general population. In normal training activities, we found that Fruitflow almost completely suppressed the platelet activation and reduced the following inflammation by about half,” she told NutritionInsight.

Next to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claim on blood aggregation, O’Kennedy commented on the possibility for a sports nutrition claim at the summit.

“The EFSA claim on blood aggregation has been an enormous benefit, the first health claim we had, but I wouldn’t underestimate the work required to get the health claim as it was the first in the category. Since then the health claims has been much smoother. It also added platelet aggregation to the list of potential bio-markers which was a good thing in itself.”

“The timeline would be quite long [for a sports nutrition EFSA claim]. So far we have only run preliminary studies. It’s important for us to get an idea of how meaningful the effect is and in which groups it would be most beneficial. One important group would be the more elderly people who are having difficulty exercising.”

However, she noted that it does look “optimistic,” despite the lengthy process.

DSM supplied professional cycling team, Sunweb, with Fruit at this year's Tour de France.

“For top athletes, the margins between victory and failure are slim. Professional athletes need their nutrition to support them in every way possible, through both training and events,” says Ruedi Duss, Global Business and Marketing Manager at DSM Nutritional Products commented at the time. “Fruitflow was the first natural cardio-protective functional ingredient to receive approval of an Article 13.5 claim from the European Commission and is ideal for cyclists that need to support their recovery for maximum performance.”

Indeed, the importance of official claims and scientific backing for sports nutrition was highlighted at the summit. The increase of health benefits in sports nutrition being claimed directly or indirectly without scientific support and regulation could be a future danger. 

You can watch the video here.

By Laxmi Haigh, with additional reporting by Robin Wyers

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