Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Feed A Cold, Feed A Fever: Calorie Cut Makes It Harder To Fight Flu, Animal Study Shows

Date:
November 25, 2008
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Dieters or those who consume fewer calories during flu season could have a harder time fighting off the flu virus, according to a nutritional immunology professor. Researchers have shown that mice with a calorie-restricted diet were more likely to die during the first few days of infection than mice with a normal diet.

Dieters or those who consume fewer calories during flu season could have a harder time fighting off the flu virus, according to research by Michigan State University nutritional immunology professor Elizabeth Gardner.

Related Articles


In a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Gardner showed that mice with a calorie-restricted diet were more likely to die during the first few days of infection than mice with a normal diet. Caloric restriction is the practice of reducing the intake of calories to 40 percent of a normal diet, while maintaining adequate vitamins and minerals.

“If you are exposed to a new strain of influenza, to which your body has not made adequate antibodies to protect you from infection, your body must rely on cells that will kill the virus,” Gardner said. “The natural killer cells are important in controlling the early stages of virus infection, because they act quickly once they encounter virus-infected cells. Our studies show that calorically restricted mice have increased susceptibility to influenza, and their bodies are not prepared to produce the amount of natural killer cells needed to combat the stress of fighting an infection.”

In Gardner’s research, both regularly fed mice and calorically restricted mice exposed to the virus exhibited decreased food intake as they tried to fight off the infection. Yet the mice on calorically restricted diets took longer to recover and exhibited increased mortality, weight loss and other negative effects. Even though both sets of mice had a diet fortified with appropriate vitamins, the mice consuming normal amounts of food had their appetites back sooner and recovered faster.

“Our research shows that having a body ready to fight a virus will lead to a faster recovery and less-severe effects than if it is calorically restricted,” Gardner said. “Adults can calorically restrict their diet eight months out for the year, but during the four months of flu season they need to bump it up to be ready. You need the reserves so your body is ready for any additional stress, including fighting a virus.”

Calorically restricted diets in general have been shown to increase lifespan in everything from yeast to primates, according to Gardner. But the model used in Gardner’s research can be extended to more vulnerable groups including children and the elderly, who don’t eat as much but often take vitamin supplements.

Flu shots can’t guarantee protection, in any case, since they are formulated months in advance and only can target a small handful of the many flu virus strains that might infect the population.

“If the strain of flu a person is infected with is different from the strain included in the flu vaccination, then your body sees this as a primary infection and must produce the antibodies to fight it off. A calorically restricted body is not as well prepared to do this and cannot control early infection, which impedes recovery,” Gardner added.

Gardner, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, now is investigating the mechanisms responsible for decreased immune function during caloric restriction. Her research in nutritional immunology will lead to a better understanding of how a diet affects the immune system and the best conditions for a body to quickly and successfully fight infections.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Feed A Cold, Feed A Fever: Calorie Cut Makes It Harder To Fight Flu, Animal Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125113102.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2008, November 25). Feed A Cold, Feed A Fever: Calorie Cut Makes It Harder To Fight Flu, Animal Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125113102.htm
Michigan State University. "Feed A Cold, Feed A Fever: Calorie Cut Makes It Harder To Fight Flu, Animal Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125113102.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins