Drinking tea and wine may help prevent influenza, as a compound found in these beverages can boost the immune system, scientists say.
Researchers at Washington University in the US found that a particular gut microbe can prevent severe flu infections in mice, by breaking down naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids. This strategy is effective in staving off severe damage from flu when the interaction occurs prior to infection with the influenza virus, researchers said.
“For years, flavonoids have been thought to have protective properties that help regulate the immune system to fight infections,” said Ashley Steed, from St Louis Children’s Hospital in the US. Flavonoids are commonly found in black tea, red wine and blueberries. “We were able to identify at least one type of bacteria that uses these dietary compounds to boost interferon, a signalling molecule that aids the immune response,” said Thaddeus Stappenbeck, from University of Washington.
“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,” Stappenbeck added. The study was published in the journal Science.