When you start feeling under the weather and want to stop flu in its tracks, your answer could be as simple as heading to your wine rack or putting on the kettle.Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine discovered that a compound found in foods such as red wine, blueberries and black tea could help gut bacteria to prevent severe influenza infections in mice, report Spectator Health. It is thought consuming the plant flavonoid compound before flu develops may reduce symptoms and flu’s impact.
The team looked at how gut microbiome affect the development of flu and flu prevention. Researchers screened human gut microbes to find ones that metabolised flavonoids and found one called clostridium orbiscindens that produces a metabolite and has a positive effect on immune response.
Thaddeus Stappenbeck, senior author of the study, explained that the metabolite in question was called desaminotyrosine (otherwise known as DAT). When the team gave DAT to the mice and then infected them with flu, they noticed the mice suffered less lung damage than those not treated with the metabolite. Both groups of mice experienced the same levels of flu infection, which showed DAT didn’t prevent the flu itself – but “kept the immune system from harming the lung tissue.”
According to Spectator Health, Stappenbeck added:
“It’s not only having a diet rich in flavonoids, our results show you also need the right microbes in the intestine to use those flavonoids to control the immune response. We were able to identify at least one type of bacteria that uses these dietary compounds to boost interferon, a signaling molecule that aids the immune response. This prevented influenza-related lung damage in the mice. It is this kind of damage that often causes significant complications such as pneumonia in people.”
While flavonoids are plant compounds that are thought to have potential health benefits, we don’t recommend you start glugging red wine in order to prevent flu, as further research is needed. The team now plan to look at other gut microbes that utilise flavonoids to boost immunity and how to improve the gut bacteria of some people who don’t have a healthy balance of microbes.
Find out what to eat to have healthy gut bacteria here.
From: ELLE UK