Tart cherry, goji berries, and acai have been trending for years—but according to wellness gurus (and our Instagram feeds), there’s a new ‘it’ supplement with antioxidant superpowers in town: noni juice. Here, everything you need to know about the buzzy superfruit.
What Is Noni Juice?
First of all, it’s pronounced no-nee.
Noni juice comes from the fruit of the evergreen Morinda citrifolia tree (part of the coffee family). It grows in Southeast Asia, Australia, India, the Polynesian Islands, and Hawaii—usually near where lava flows.
These parts of the world have long used the noni fruit, leaves, flowers, seeds, stems, bark, and roots for their nutraceutical qualities, says herbalist and educator Vanessa Chakou, founder of holistic health workshop and retreat Sacred Warrior.
The noni fruit looks a bit like an unripe kiwi and is known for having a somewhat foul smell and flavor.
In recent decades, people have begun to reap the benefits of noni by fermenting the stinky fruit in the sun. “If you fill a glass container with the ripe fruit and seal it, after a few weeks, a sour liquid appears,” explains Chakour. This (or a strained and pasteurized version of it) is noni juice as we know it today.
Noni Juice & Antioxidants
One 2018 Foods review, for example, suggests that many of noni juice’s long-treasured health benefits stem from its high antioxidant content—and the powerful effect those antioxidants have on the immune system.
As you probably know by now, antioxidants help reduce cellular damage caused by oxidative stress, which can stem from exposure to external chemicals and pollutants and free radicals produced during natural body functions, like the metabolic process of producing energy.
The Benefits of Noni Juice
Because of its antioxidant properties, the purported benefits of noni juice are many.
“Anecdotal reports suggest noni juice may improve well-being, support sleep, assist digestion, and promote healthy aging,” says Jonathan Valdez, R.D.N., owner of Genki Nutrition and spokesperson for the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Here are six of the tropical juice’s biggest perks.
1. Improved Digestion
“Herbalism believes that the noni fruit cleanses the body by moving the waters of our body and, in turn, cleansing the digestive system,” says Chakour.
Essentially, the juice gets our digestive system moving and grooving.
How? According to this Huntington College of Health Services paper, specific phytochemicals—called anthraquinones and damnacanthal—have a stimulating effect on the GI tract.
2. Boosted Immunity
Perhaps the best-known benefit of antioxidants: “They’re thought to play a beneficial role in regulating the immune system,” says Valdez. Hence the noni juice-immune health connection.
Valdez also suggests that noni’s vitamin and mineral content contributes to its immune-boosting ability. Noni juice contains some potassium, along with trace amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, sodium, and magnesium, he says.
Plus, it also contains more than 160 phytochemicals, including phenolic compounds, organic acids, and alkaloids.
Many of these other compounds offer their own unique immune health benefits.
3. Healthy Joints
Current research suggests noni juice can also help ease joint discomfort.
Take this study published in the Nigerian Journal of Health and Biomedical Sciences, for instance. Researchers found that after four weeks of ingesting 30 milliliters of noni juice a day, participants with joint issues reported lower ratings of discomfort.
4. High-Power Athletic Performance & Recovery
Another of antioxidants’ better-known benefits: their ability to promote exercise performance and recovery. You’ve probably heard about tart cherry juice being used to promote recovery—and noni juice works in a similar way.
For instance, one 2012 trial found that athletes who drank just less than a cup of noni juice per day saw greater improvements in endurance and reductions in fatigue than those who drank blueberry juice.
Worth noting: Some recent research suggests ingesting too many antioxidants too close to exercise can actually inhibit the inflammatory response necessary for our muscles to adapt and grow. So if fitness gains are top priority, consider consuming noni juice—and other high-antioxidants foods, drinks, or supplements—at least a few hours before or after working out.
5. Healthy Aging
Not only does noni support inner health, but it can also have very visible benefits, too.
When applied topically, noni acts as a moisturizing skin-booster and can promote a clear, healthy, and youthful complexion, says Valdez.
By helping to limit the skin’s production of free radicals in response to sun damage, noni’s antioxidants help you hold onto that youthful glow.
And since drinking noni juice also delivers those precious antioxidants throughout your system, consuming it can support healthy skin from the inside, too, says Chakour.
6. Overall Health & Well-Being
In addition to the specific benefits listed above, noni juice’s antioxidants also support our general health in a number of other ways.
Given the environmental and lifestyle stressors now common in our everyday lives, taking in ample antioxidants has never been more important.
After all, research consistently shows that natural antioxidant intake supports health outcomes, like healthy blood pressure, over time. Why do you think the American Heart Association recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables?
Notable Noni Precautions
Though noni offers some major health benefits, it’s not recommended for everyone.
People with kidney disease, for example, may not be able to process noni’s high potassium content and should avoid it.
According to Valdez, “people who take blood thinners or blood pressure or liver medications should also avoid noni.”
How To Reap Noni Juice’s Benefits
Interested in adding noni juice to your health and wellness routine? Just keep a few best practices in mind.
Choosing A Quality Supplement
Because noni juice tends to be sour, many brands sweeten it with other juices or added sugar.
Chakour recommends checking all bottled noni juice labels for excess added sugar or artificial sweeteners and avoiding overly-sweetened products.
- for an unsweetened juice: Dynamic Health’s Organic Certified Noni Juice From Tahiti
- for a naturally-sweetened juice: The Vitamin Shoppe brand’s Organic Noni (sweetened with apple juice, raspberry puree, and raspberry flavor)
Once you’ve got yourself a quality noni juice, Chakour recommends taking it in a quick shot. She takes one shot in the morning and another in the afternoon.
Some experts suggest that taking noni on an empty stomach supports its absorption, hence why it often finds its place in early-morning rituals.
When you first get started, start with 15 milliliters (about one tablespoon) per day, says Valdez. Gauge how you feel throughout the first few months and, if needed, gradually up your intake to 30 milliliters.
Some people might experience stomach upset after drinking noni juice (after all, it does stimulate your digestive system). In this case, Valdez recommends drinking the juice alongside some food or lowering your dose.
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