Black tea, red wine and blueberries protect against real flu viruses

Doctors are studying the effects of flavonoids on the flu
Researchers have now found that a combination in black tea, red wine, and blueberries can reduce or even prevent the effects of a flu infection. Taking flavonoids before the onset of flu can limit symptoms. The results of the study also offer a possible explanation for the different human responses to influenza infection.

The researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine found that compounds in some foods prevent the negative effects of the flu in mice. The doctors published the results of their study in the scientific journal "Science".

Which intestinal microbes protect against flu?
Previous research has indicated that the so-called intestinal microbiome (intestinal flora) plays an important role in protecting against severe influenza infections. In their current investigation, the scientists tried to identify which intestinal microbes could offer such protection.

Can Clostridium orbiscinden provide protection against influenza?
The researchers examined the intestinal flora for microbes that metabolize flavonoids. The experts actually managed to find such a bacterium that they expected to protect against influenza. Clostridium orbiscinden influences the flavonoids that they produce metabolites, which then amplify the so-called interferon signaling, the scientists explain.

Flavonoids protect against infections and regulate the immune system
For years, flavonoids have been thought to have protective properties that help regulate the immune system and are effective in fighting infection, says author Ashley Steed. Flavonoids are a normal part of our diet, which implies that flavonoids work with the gut microbes to protect people from the flu and other viral infections. We certainly still have a lot to learn about this topic, but the results so far are fascinating, the author adds.

Desaminotyrosine can protect the lungs from damage
The metabolite called desaminotyrosine is also known as DAT. When mice were given DAT and then infected with influenza, much less lung damage occurred in these mice compared to mice without DAT treatment, author Thaddeus Stappenbeck explains.

Lung damage causes severe complications in humans
It's not just about a diet rich in flavonoids. The results of the study show that the right microbes in the intestine are needed, which can control the immune response by using the flavonoids, the experts say. We have been able to identify at least one type of bacteria that uses these nutritional compounds to enhance interferon, the researchers said. This signaling molecule supports the immune response. Therefore the influenza-related lung damage is prevented in the mice. It is precisely this type of damage that often causes considerable complications (e.g. pneumonia) in humans.

Mice treated with DAT have less lung damage
The lungs of the DAT-treated mice did not show as much damage from the flu compared to untreated mice, although the viral infections were identical. What microbes and DAT couldn't prevent was the flu infection. The mice carried the virus in their bodies, but DAT prevented the immune system from damaging the tissues of the lungs, explains Stappenbeck.

Further investigations of gut microbes are necessary
The researchers now want to try to identify other intestinal microbes that can also use flavonoids to influence the immune system. Possibilities will also be investigated to strengthen the concentration of these bacteria in people with an intestine that is not sufficiently colonized by these microbes. (as)

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