Influenza outbreak and vegetable intake

Residents I look after at the retirement homes are being started on prophylactic antivirals due to inflenza outbreaks.  I wondered, other than the customary precaution (Flu shots, keeping warm, hand washing, avoid sharing cups) to prevent transmission, if there is any information on ways to help combat the influenza outbreak using nutrition.  Little research off the internet disclosed the following:

One study “screened 13 different flavonoids from various flavonoid groups to identify the most potent antiviral flavonoid against human influenza A/PR/8/34 (H1N1). The 3-hydroxyl group flavonoids, including 3,2᾿dihydroxyflavone (3,2᾿DHF) and 3,4᾿dihydroxyflavone (3,4᾿DHF), showed potent anti-influenza activity.”

Another studydemonstrated the following arrangement for their anti-influenza activities: nepitrin (2) > 6-hydroxyluteolin 7-O-β-d-glucoside (1) > homoplantaginin (3). The potent inhibitory activities of these flavonoids against influenza suggested their potential to be developed as novel anti-influenza drugs in the future.”

Yet another study found “that some flavonoid compounds possess an ability of anti-influenza virus, one of which is hesperidin. Hesperidin potentially inhibited influenza virus production in A549 cells and MDCK cells. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms underlying the anti-influenza virus activity of hesperidin. Our data demonstrated that hesperidin enhanced cell-autonomous immunity by modulating MAP kinase signaling pathways via up-regulating p38 and JNK activation while down-regulating ERK activation.”

These findings supports the importance of flavinoids in our plant-based food groups in our diet as promoted by the:

1. new Canada Food Guide (>50% plant-based), 
2. the World Health organization’s  Nutrition Fact Sheet (400 grams per day of non-starchy vegetables and fruits) & 
3. the Basic Meal Plan in the Canadian Diabetic Association Guidelines (50% vegetables).

My meals begin with 5 oz of non-starchy vegetables and my favorite beverage this winter is orange peels steeped in hot water.  Orange peels are rich in hesperidine - besides having antiviral properties, also a potent anti-inflammatory.

For my patients in retirement / nursing homes, my usual recommendation or standing order is 5 oz of non-starchy vegetables three times a day.

1 comment:

  1. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic approach to health that has been practiced for thousands of years. It emphasizes the balance of the body's internal systems through various methods, including the prescription of herbal combinations. The potential efficacy of TCM herbs could be partially explained by the presence of a diverse group of phytochemicals known as flavonoids, which are found in nearly 10,000 different forms within the plant kingdom.

    Flavonoids are known for their extensive range of biological activities. They are compounds that have been extensively researched for their antioxidant properties, which can help to neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. This antioxidative effect is essential in the prevention of cellular damage and aging, and also plays a role in the body's immune response.

    Beyond their antioxidative capabilities, many flavonoids have been found to possess antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antineoplastic properties. This means that they have the potential to protect the body against a variety of pathogens and even prevent the growth of cancer cells. For example, some flavonoids can inhibit the replication of viruses or the growth of bacteria, which makes them valuable as a natural defense mechanism.

    In TCM, the combination of herbs in therapy is not random; it is based on centuries of empirical evidence and theoretical principles. The practitioners of TCM believe in treating the individual holistically, considering not just the symptoms, but the entire body, mind, and spirit. The combinations of herbs are tailored to the individual's unique balance of energy, or Qi, and are aimed at restoring balance and harmony within the body.

    The concept of synergy is also critical in TCM. It is believed that combining herbs can enhance their therapeutic effects and reduce potential toxicity. This synergistic effect could be due to the interactions between different flavonoids, which may work together to enhance each other's positive effects or mitigate adverse effects.

    Scientific research into the mechanisms by which TCM works is ongoing. While the presence of flavonoids offers a partial explanation for the observed benefits of herbal therapy, it is likely that other compounds within the herbs contribute to their overall efficacy as well. Modern analytical techniques and molecular biology are beginning to unravel the complexities of these herbal combinations, providing a bridge between traditional practices and evidence-based medicine.

    In conclusion, the potential mechanisms by which TCM prescribes combinations of herbs as therapy may indeed be connected to the wealth of flavonoids present in plants. These compounds, with their wide-ranging protective properties, could be one of the keys to understanding how TCM promotes health and combats disease. However, the holistic approach of TCM, the principle of synergy, and the possible roles of other phytochemicals should also be acknowledged in the therapeutic effects of these ancient practices.


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