Get special offers, recipes, health news, PLUS our FREE seafood cooking guide! I'm on Board Hide 
Got it, thanks! Click here for your FREE seafood cooking guide & recipes e-booklet.Hide 
Youtube Pintrest Facebook Twitter
Do Foodborne Antioxidants Fight Viruses?
Polyphenols from veggies, berries, tea, EV olive oil, and curcumin may help fight colds and flu

10/21/2015 By Craig Weatherby
As winter approaches, so does cold and flu season.

Flu shots only reduce the risk of infection by about half … which is still much better than nothing.

But there is no vaccine against the common cold, and no proven preventive measure for colds or the flu.

So it makes sense to adopt any diet or lifestyle measure that might reduce the risk or severity of an upper respiratory infection.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention stresses some obvious preventive steps:
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
To that list we would add "get plenty of sleep” and "get plenty of seafood-source omega-3s”.

Lack of sleep raises the risk for catching a cold, and certain metabolic byproducts of omega-3 DHA – produced when we eat seafood or take fish oil – suppress replication of the flu virus (Bryant PA et al. 2004; Imai Y 2015).

Now, growing research suggests that we should add another preventive measure: ample amounts of the polyphenol-type antioxidants found in edible plants.

Foodborne antioxidants versus viruses
Research published over the past decade, shows that polyphenol antioxidants suppress viruses.

These naturally occurring compounds abound in colorful fruits and vegetables, tea (green and black), extra virgin olive oil, natural cocoa, all culinary herbs, and in many medicinal herbs, such as curcumin.

For example, the potent, yellow-hued polyphenols in turmeric root – collectively called curcumin – appear to suppress human papillomavirus (HPV): see Curry's Color May Curb Oral and Cervical Cancers.

And, in two small, placebo- controlled clinical trials, an elderberry (Sambucus nigra) extract – widely sold under the name Sambucol – showed significant benefits in people infected with different flu viruses (Zakay-Rones Z et al. 1995; Zakay-Rones Z et al. 2004). 

In the 1995 trial, the people in the elderberry group enjoyed significant improvement within two days, while the patients in the control group showed no improvement until six days had passed.

More recently, an Emory University team reported that elderberry extract impaired a bronchitis virus in human cells, at an early point during its replication (Chen C et al. 2015).

Foodborne polyphenols enhanced runners' immunity
David Nieman, DrPh, was among the first scientists to show that – following a race – marathon runners become vulnerable to viral illnesses such as colds or the flu (Calabrese LH, Nieman DC 1996).

As Dr. Nieman explained, "… after heavy exertion, bacteria and viruses can multiply at a higher rate due to factors like stress hormones and inflammatory cytokines. This is why runners are six times more likely to get sick after a marathon.” (ASU 2015)

(In contrast, Nieman and his colleagues found that moderate exercise – such as near-daily brisk walking – reduces the number of sick days by half.)

The discovery that endurance athletes become vulnerable led him to look for natural compounds that might prevent infection ... and/or enhance recovery and overall athletic performance.

Last year, Nieman's team at Appalachian State University (ASU) published the results of a placebo-controlled clinical trial.

They found that a drink packed with polyphenols from blueberries and green tea helped prevent viral replication in endurance athletes (Ahmed M et al. 2014).

As Nieman said, "We are producing some of the first human studies showing plant polyphenols work with the immune system to help clear viruses and keep their ability to multiply under control.” (ASU 2015)

Polyphenols probably benefit non-athletes
The novel assays (blood tests) used in the study were developed by Nieman and his study co-author Maryam Ahmed, PhD, a virology expert based at ASU.

In 2010, Professors Nieman and Ahmed published a study suggesting that the anti-viral effects of polyphenols probably apply to everyone ... especially people of middle age or older.

Their placebo-controlled clinical trial was designed to test the effects of a polyphenol called quercetin, which is found in fruits and abounds in onions and certain other vegetables (Heinz SA et al. 2010).

Nieman and Ahmed recruited 1,002 people of widely varying age (18-85 years), and divided them into two groups, each assigned to a different daily regimen lasting 12 weeks:
  • Placebo capsules
  • Quercetin capsules (providing 1000 mg per day)
Compared with placebo capsules, the quercetin capsules had no effect on infection rates or severity among younger people in the study (under age 40).

However, quercetin greatly benefited the participants who were middle-aged or older and relatively fit.

The older, fitter members of the quercetin group were 31% less likely to lose any days of work due to an upper respiratory infection (e.g., cold or flu) … and the severity of any infections was 36% lower (Heinz SA et al. 2010).

As Dr. Ahmed said, "These compounds are also anti-oxidant and anti-cancer and have other properties that can benefit the general public.” (ASU 2015)

Their findings add to the many reasons – such as optimal heart, metabolic, brain, and eye health – to get plenty of fruits and vegetables. 


Sources
  • Adolph S, Fuhrmann H, Schumann J. Unsaturated fatty acids promote the phagocytosis of P. aeruginosa and R. equi by RAW264.7 macrophages. Curr Microbiol. 2012 Dec;65(6):649-55. doi: 10.1007/s00284-012-0207-3. Epub 2012 Aug 18.
  • Ahmed M, Henson DA, Sanderson MC, Nieman DC, Gillitt ND, Lila MA. The protective effects of a polyphenol-enriched protein powder on exercise-induced susceptibility to virus infection. Phytother Res. 2014 Dec;28(12):1829-36. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5208. Epub 2014 Aug 2. 
  • Ahmed M, Henson DA, Sanderson MC, Nieman DC, Zubeldia JM, Shanely RA. Rhodiola rosea Exerts Antiviral Activity in Athletes Following a Competitive Marathon Race. Front Nutr. 2015 Jul 31;2:24. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2015.00024. eCollection 2015.
  • Barak V, Halperin T, Kalickman I. The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines. Eur Cytokine Netw. 2001 Apr-Jun;12(2):290-6.
  • Bryant PA, Trinder J, Curtis N. Sick and tired: Does sleep have a vital role in the immune system? Nat Rev Immunol. 2004 Jun;4(6):457-67. Review. Calabrese LH, Nieman DC. Exercise, immunity, and infection. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1996
  • Calland N, Sahuc ME, Belouzard S, Pène V, Bonnafous P, Mesalam AA, Deloison G, Descamps V, Sahpaz S, Wychowski C, Lambert O, Brodin P, Duverlie G, Meuleman P, Rosenberg AR, Dubuisson J, Rouillé Y, Séron K. Polyphenols Inhibit Hepatitis C Virus Entry by a New Mechanism of Action. J Virol. 2015 Oct 1;89(19):10053-63. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01473-15. Epub 2015 Jul 22.
  • Catel-Ferreira M, Tnani H, Hellio C, Cosette P, Lebrun L. Antiviral effects of polyphenols: development of bio-based cleaning wipes and filters. J Virol Methods. 2015 Feb;212:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2014.10.008. Epub 2014 Oct 26.
  • Chen C, Zuckerman DM, Brantley S, Sharpe M, Childress K, Hoiczyk E, Pendleton AR. Sambucus nigra extracts inhibit infectious bronchitis virus at an early point during replication. BMC Vet Res. 2014 Jan 16;10:24. doi: 10.1186/1746-6148-10-24.
  • Dalli J, Chiang N, Serhan CN. Identification of 14-series sulfido-conjugated mediators that promote resolution of infection and organ protection. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 4;111(44):E4753-61. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1415006111. Epub 2014 Oct 16.
  • Di Domenico F, Foppoli C, Coccia R, Perluigi M. Antioxidants in cervical cancer: chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic effects of polyphenols. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 May;1822(5):737-47. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2011.10.005. Epub 2011 Oct 12.
  • Diwaker D, Mishra KP, Ganju L, Singh SB. Rhodiola inhibits dengue virus multiplication by inducing innate immune response genes RIG-I, MDA5 and ISG in human monocytes. Arch Virol. 2014 Aug;159(8):1975-86. doi: 10.1007/s00705-014-2028-0. Epub 2014 Mar 4.
  • Gamaldo CE, Shaikh AK, McArthur JC. The sleep-immunity relationship. Neurol Clin. 2012 Nov;30(4):1313-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ncl.2012.08.007. Review. Halvorsen DS, Hansen JB, Grimsgaard S, Bønaa KH, Kierulf P, Nordøy A. The effect of highly purified eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids on monocyte phagocytosis in man. Lipids. 1997 Sep;32(9):935-42.
  • Heinz SA, Henson DA, Austin MD, Jin F, Nieman DC. Quercetin supplementation and upper respiratory tract infection: A randomized community clinical trial. Pharmacol Res. 2010 Sep;62(3):237-42. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2010.05.001. Epub 2010 May 15.
  • Hellum BH, Tosse A, Hoybakk K, Thomsen M, Rohloff J, Georg Nilsen O. Potent in vitro inhibition of CYP3A4 and P-glycoprotein by Rhodiola rosea. Planta Med. 2010 Mar;76(4):331-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1186153. Epub 2009 Sep 29.
  • Hunter DC, Skinner MA, Wolber FM, Booth CL, Loh JM, Wohlers M, Stevenson LM, Kruger MC. Consumption of gold kiwifruit reduces severity and duration of selected upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and increases plasma vitamin C concentration in healthy older adults. Br J Nutr. 2012 Oct;108(7):1235-45. Epub 2011 Dec 15
  • Ibarra-Coronado EG, Pantaleón-Martínez AM, Velazquéz-Moctezuma J, Prospéro-García O, Méndez-Díaz M, Pérez-Tapia M, Pavón L, Morales-Montor J. The Bidirectional Relationship between Sleep and Immunity against Infections. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:678164. doi: 10.1155/2015/678164. Epub 2015 Aug 31. Review.
  • Imai Y. Role of omega-3 PUFA-derived mediators, the protectins, in influenza virus infection. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Apr;1851(4):496-502. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2015.01.006. Epub 2015 Jan 22. Review.
  • Imanishi N, Tuji Y, Katada Y, Maruhashi M, Konosu S, Mantani N, Terasawa K, Ochiai H. Additional inhibitory effect of tea extract on the growth of influenza A and B viruses in MDCK cells. Microbiol Immunol. 2002;46(7):491-4.
  • Jeong HJ, Ryu YB, Park SJ, Kim JH, Kwon HJ, Kim JH, Park KH, Rho MC, Lee WS. Neuraminidase inhibitory activities of flavonols isolated from Rhodiola rosea roots and their in vitro anti-influenza viral activities. Bioorg Med Chem. 2009 Oct 1;17(19):6816-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2009.08.036. Epub 2009 Aug 21.
  • Kew S, Gibbons ES, Thies F, McNeill GP, Quinlan PT, Calder PC. The effect of feeding structured triacylglycerols enriched in eicosapentaenoic or docosahexaenoic acids on murine splenocyte fatty acid composition and leucocyte phagocytosis. Br J Nutr. 2003 Dec;90(6):1071-80.
  • Kim Y, Narayanan S, Chang KO. Inhibition of influenza virus replication by plant-derived isoquercetin. Antiviral Res. 2010 Nov;88(2):227-35. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2010.08.016. Epub 2010 Sep 6.
  • Lin SP, Li CY, Suzuki K, Chang CK, Chou KM, Fang SH. Green tea consumption after intense taekwondo training enhances salivary defense factors and antibacterial capacity. PLoS One. 2014 Jan 30;9(1):e87580. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087580. eCollection 2014.
  • Ling JX, Wei F, Li N, Li JL, Chen LJ, Liu YY, Luo F, Xiong HR, Hou W, Yang ZQ. Amelioration of influenza virus-induced reactive oxygen species formation by epigallocatechin gallate derived from green tea. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2012 Dec;33(12):1533-41. doi: 10.1038/aps.2012.80. Epub 2012 Sep 3.
  • Liu S, Yu X, Hu B, Zou Y, Li J, Bo L, Deng X. Salidroside rescued mice from experimental sepsis through anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptosis effects. J Surg Res. 2015 May 1;195(1):277-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2015.01.021. Epub 2015 Jan 14.
  • Nakayama M, Suzuki K, Toda M, Okubo S, Hara Y, Shimamura T. Inhibition of the infectivity of influenza virus by tea polyphenols. Antiviral Res. 1993 Aug;21(4):289-99. Pharmacol Res. 2010 Sep;62(3):237-42. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2010.05.001. Epub 2010 May 15.
  • Nieman DC, Pedersen BK. Exercise and immune function. Recent developments. Sports Med. 1999 Feb;27(2):73-80. Review.
  • Nieman DC. Marathon training and immune function. Sports Med. 2007;37(4-5):412-5. Nieman DC, Gillitt ND, Knab AM, Shanely RA, 
  • Pappan KL, Jin F, Lila MA. Influence of a polyphenol-enriched protein powder on exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress in athletes: a randomized trial using a metabolomics approach. PLoS One. 2013 Aug 15;8(8):e72215. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072215. eCollection 2013
  • Palombo JD, DeMichele SJ, Boyce PJ, Lydon EE, Liu JW, Huang YS, Forse RA, Mizgerd JP, Bistrian BR. Effect of short-term enteral feeding with eicosapentaenoic and gamma-linolenic acids on alveolar macrophage eicosanoid synthesis and bactericidal function in rats. Crit Care Med. 1999 Sep;27(9):1908-15.
  • Pang JY, Zhao KJ, Wang JB, Ma ZJ, Xiao XH. Green tea polyphenol, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, possesses the antiviral activity necessary to fight against the hepatitis B virus replication in vitro. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2014 Jun;15(6):533-9. doi: 10.1631/jzus.B1300307. 
  • Skarpanska-Stejnborn A, Pilaczynska-Szczesniak L, Basta P, Deskur-Smielecka E. The influence of supplementation with Rhodiola rosea L. extract on selected redox parameters in professional rowers. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2009 Apr;19(2):186-99.
  • Song JM, Lee KH, Seong BL. Antiviral effect of catechins in green tea on influenza virus. Antiviral Res. 2005 Nov;68(2):66-74. Epub 2005 Aug 9.
  • Su X, Sangster MY, D'Souza DH. Time-dependent effects of pomegranate juice and pomegranate polyphenols on foodborne viral reduction. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2011 Nov;8(11):1177-83. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2011.0873. Epub 2011 Jul 21.
  • Wang H, Ding Y, Zhou J, Sun X, Wang S. The in vitro and in vivo antiviral effects of salidroside from Rhodiola rosea L. against coxsackievirus B3. Phytomedicine. 2009 Mar;16(2-3):146-55. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2008.07.013. Epub 2008 Sep 24.
  • Xing SS, Yang XY, Zheng T, Li WJ, Wu D, Chi JY, Bian F, Bai XL, Wu GJ, Zhang YZ, Zhang CT, Zhang YH, Li YS, Jin S. Salidroside improves endothelial function and alleviates atherosclerosis by activating a mitochondria-related AMPK/PI3K/Akt/eNOS pathway. Vascul Pharmacol. 2015 Sep;72:141-52. doi: 10.1016/j.vph.2015.07.004. Epub 2015 Jul 15.
  • Yamada K, Ogawa H, Hara A, Yoshida Y, Yonezawa Y, Karibe K, Nghia VB, Yoshimura H, Yamamoto Y, Yamada M, Nakamura K, Imai K. Mechanism of the antiviral effect of hydroxytyrosol on influenza virus appears to involve morphological change of the virus. Antiviral Res. 2009 Jul;83(1):35-44. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2009.03.002. Epub 2009 Mar 24.
  • Yan GH, Choi YH. Salidroside attenuates allergic airway inflammation through negative regulation of nuclear factor-kappa B and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. J Pharmacol Sci. 2014;126(2):126-35.
  • Yang J, Li L, Tan S, Jin H, Qiu J, Mao Q, Li R, Xia C, Jiang ZH, Jiang S, Liu S. A natural theaflavins preparation inhibits HIV-1 infection by targeting the entry step: potential applications for preventing HIV-1 infection. Fitoterapia. 2012 Mar;83(2):348-55. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2011.11.016. Epub 2011 Dec 3.
  • Yang ZF, Bai LP, Huang WB, Li XZ, Zhao SS, Zhong NS, Jiang ZH. Comparison of in vitro antiviral activity of tea polyphenols against influenza A and B viruses and structure-activity relationship analysis. Fitoterapia. 2014 Mar;93:47-53. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2013.12.011. Epub 2013 Dec 24.
  • Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40.
  • Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, Manor O, Regev L, Schlesinger M, Mumcuoglu M. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9.
  • Zhu L, Wei T, Chang X, He H, Gao J, Wen Z, Yan T. Effects of Salidroside on Myocardial Injury In Vivo In Vitro via Regulation of Nox/NF-κB/AP1 Pathway. Inflammation. 2015 Aug;38(4):1589-98. doi: 10.1007/s10753-015-0134-0.
  • Zu M, Yang F, Zhou W, Liu A, Du G, Zheng L. In vitro anti-influenza virus and anti-inflammatory activities of theaflavin derivatives. Antiviral Res. 2012 Jun;94(3):217-24. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2012.04.001. Epub 2012 Apr 13.
  • Zuo G, Li Z, Chen L, Xu X. Activity of compounds from Chinese herbal medicine Rhodiola kirilowii (Regel) Maxim against HCV NS3 serine protease. Antiviral Res. 2007 Oct;76(1):86-92. Epub 2007 Jun 26.