While immunization may be the best defense against swine flu, a new study shows that antioxidants in certain foods may also protect against H1N1 and help prevent lung damage from the virus.
With shortages of H1N1 vaccine being reported worldwide, some people have been resorting to folk remedies to ward off the dreaded virus.
The rush for protection from H1N1 has even led to shortages and higher prices for foods such as garlic, onions, and others.
According to researchers at the University of Alabama, consumers of those foods that are rich in antioxidants actually do add an extra layer of protection, reports FoodConsumer.
Researcher Sadis Matalon and colleagues found the cause of damage to our lungs when we get the flu was caused by M2 protein, which attacks the cells that line the inner surfaces of the lungs, says the study published in the FASEB Journal and the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.
The M2 protein damages the lung cells so they cannot remove liquid that builds up inside the lungs, making the person infected more susceptible to pneumonia and other lung problems.
The research discovered cells that were pretreated with glutathione ester, an antioxidant that is available as a dietary supplement, prevented the damaging effects of M2 protein to lung cells.
The study says that when our consumption of sulphur rich foods is sufficient there is no need to take a supplement as our bodies naturally synthesize the glutathione compound when nourished properly.
Some sulphur-rich foods that are readily available are garlic, onions, broccoli, oats, corn, legumes, nuts, seeds and many others.
The study says that meat eaters should also consider eating red meats, eggs, whey protein, and dairy products, reports FoodConsumer.
Due to its recommendation as an "anti-virus" plant by international medical experts, the price of garlic has soared in China giving farmers a boost, reports China Daily. The price of garlic last year was 0.08 yuan per kilogram but is now selling at 8 juan ($1.17) per kilogram.
Vendors at outdoor markets in Ukraine are also cashing in on the hysteria, by hiking prices for onions, garlic and fresh fruits as face masks and flu vaccine were in short supply or completely gone, reports The Cutting Edge.