Diet and Catch the Flu?

Posted on January 5, 2009

Dieting may not be wise if what MSU researchers found in mice translates to humans as well. BBC reports that the MSU researchers found that mice that were fed 40% less were more likely to catch the flu. Mice fed less also took longer to recover from the flu.

The team at Michigan State University found even though the mice on the lower calorie diet received adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, their bodies were still not able to produce the number of killer cells needed to fight an infection.

As well as being more likely to die from the virus, the mice - which were consuming around 40% of the calories given to their counterparts on a normal diet - took longer to recover, lost more weight and displayed other symptoms of poor health.

"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," said study author Professor Elizabeth Gardner.

It would be interesting to see if the study gets the same results with other viruses such as the common cold virus. Flu activity has been pretty low so far this year but it is starting to pick up in the Northeast - you can see the latest graphic showing activity in the U.S. state here on the CDC's website.

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