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.

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