When you feel yourself coming down with a cold or flu, the best medicine is a glass red wine or a cup of tea, researchers say.
The Washington University of Medicine undertook the research and discovered beverages such as red wine and black tea prevented the flu virus in lab mice.
This is the result of plant flavonoids found in such drinks, and is proven to alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu.
The conclusions of the research are published in the journal Science.
"For years, flavonoids have been thought to have protective properties that help regulate the immune system to fight infections," wrote the study’s author, Ashley Steed, according to the Metro.
"Flavonoids are common in our diets, so an important implication of our study is that it’s possible flavonoids work with gut microbes to protect us from flu and other viral infections. Obviously, we need to learn more, but our results are intriguing."
Previous research suggested that the gut microbiome may be an essential factor in defending against severe influenza infections. In this study, the researchers aimed to identify which gut microbes might provide protection against such viruses.
Researchers tested human gut microbes, aiming to find one that metabolised flavonoids. They identified one such microbe that they suspect might fight against influenza. The microbe they found is called clostridium orbiscindens.
“It’s not only having a diet rich in flavonoids; our results show that you also need the right microbes in the intestine to use those flavonoids to control the immune response,” explained senior author of the research Thaddeus Stappenbeck, according to Spectator.
“We were able to identify at least one type of bacteria that uses these dietary compounds to boost interferon, a signaling molecule that aids the immune response. This prevented influenza-related lung damage in the mice. It is this kind of damage that often causes significant complications such as pneumonia in people.”
However, this study was solely tested on mice and rats; so whether this method works for humans remains to be seen. More research is needed to test this theory.
For the time being, experts advise sticking to the traditional methods as well as plenty of water to fight off the virus’ symptoms.