Lightly processed foods may ease flu

(ORDO NEWS) — Experiments have shown that mice fed a highly processed diet suffer from influenza much more severely than animals fed an unprocessed diet.

Proper nutrition is an important factor in helping the body fight infections. At the same time, not only the right amount of calories, the proportions of nutrients, the presence of vitamins and trace elements are important, but also the nature of the food.

In the new experiments, mice fed highly processed foods fared much worse than mice fed low-processed foods.

Carl Feng and his colleagues from the University of Sydney experimented with mice, part of which received a complete diet in the form of plant grains and fibers, and the other part – food AIN93G, containing balanced amounts of all the necessary substances in the form of a deeply processed powder.

This diet is widely used in laboratory animals, and the mice in both groups showed no difference in metabolic rate and health status.

However, infecting them with the influenza A virus led to very different results. Mice that had been fed unprocessed food for three weeks prior to illness recovered and began to gain weight within ten days.

But the mice that ate AIN93G for the same period not only did not recover, but also died. At the same time, a normal immune response to the disease occurred in animals in both groups.

The key difference was body temperature, which was significantly lower in mice on artificial food. In addition, scientists have identified signs of impaired glucose uptake.

Hypothermia in mice is associated with interferon gamma (IFNγ), one of the signaling proteins produced by infected cells.

To verify its role, biologists conducted new experiments with animals lacking IFNγ receptors. Indeed, even when fed AIN93G, influenza-infected mice showed the same temperature and recovered at the same rate as rodents that received unprocessed food.

While it is difficult to say to what extent these results are applicable to people, it is certain that during illness, close attention should be paid to proper nutrition.

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