Tomato juice, a natural beverage made from a readily available vegetable, has antimicrobial properties that could eradicate typhoid-causing Salmonella (Salmonella Typhi), according to the results of a recent study.
Tomatoes are one of the most consumed and affordable vegetables. They are also known for their antioxidant properties. However, their antimicrobial properties are still largely unexplored.
In the study published in ASM journals, researchers investigated the effectiveness of tomato juice and antimicrobial peptides obtained from tomatoes (tdAMPs) against typhoid-like Salmonella.
Typhoid is a life-threatening infectious disease typically spread through contaminated food or water. Affected patients develop symptoms such as persistent high fever, fatigue, headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, and constipation or diarrhea.
Through laboratory experiments, researchers first checked if tomato juice can kill Salmonella Typhi. After confirming its effectiveness, the team examined the tomato’s genome to identify the antimicrobial peptides responsible for destroying the bacteria’s membrane, which normally keeps it intact.
After testing, the researchers found that two of the four potential antimicrobial peptides selected by the team were effective against Salmonella Typhi. They then conducted further tests on Salmonella Typhi variants that occur frequently in endemic areas.
In addition, they conducted a computer study to understand the mechanism by which the antibacterial peptides kill Salmonella Typhi and other intestinal pathogens. They also examined how well tomato juice works against other intestinal and urinary tract health-damaging pathogens.
„Our investigations have found that tomato juice has significant antimicrobial properties against Salmonella Typhi, a pathogen that specifically affects humans and is responsible for the onset of typhoid,“ wrote the researchers.
„Furthermore, through computational and functional analyses, our study identified two antimicrobial peptides obtained from tomatoes, tdAMP1 and tdAMP2, which exhibit antimicrobial properties against a range of intestinal pathogens, including typhoid-like Salmonella (S. Typhi) and non-typhoid Salmonella (S. Typhimurium) and uropathogenic E. coli strains,“ they added.
The researchers believe that their discovery opens up a new perspective for combating infectious diseases through common foods, especially in light of the global increase in cases of antibiotic resistance.
„Each year, 21 million cases of typhoid are reported, resulting in 200,000 deaths worldwide. Despite the availability of typhoid vaccines, many developing countries continue to face significant barriers in accessing these vital resources. Furthermore, the issue of antibiotic resistance poses a problem. There is a significant risk, especially in malnourished children,“ the researchers noted.
The researchers hope that their findings will inspire more people, especially children and adolescents, to consume more tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables with antimicrobial properties.
Other foods known for their antimicrobial effects include tea, fruits such as cranberries, blackcurrants, grapes, and vegetables such as leeks, onions, and garlic.