From previous research we know that diet can help strengthen the immune system against all kinds of external threats, including the new coronavirus. The study we are talking about today reinforces this thesis since it offers an explanation on how some foods manage to support the defenses and counteract or mitigate the new coronavirus infection both with an antiviral action and through more complex mechanisms that affect the ability to regulate insulin and body weight. The article appeared in the journal Clinical and Translational Allergy thanks to the work of a German and French team (Bousquet et al, Clin Transl Allergy, 2020).
Scientists have focused their research on the action of some substances. These substances are the curcumin contained in turmeric, berberine from barberry, epigallocatechin gallate from green tea, genistein from soy, quercetin from capers, broccoli, onion and cranberries, resveratrol from grapes and sulforaphane from crucifers. The mentioned compounds are substances that, once ingested, act by counteracting inflammation and free radicals. Not only that, thanks to these effects these substances are able to improve insulin management by the body, counteracting insulin resistance and overweight. Both insulin resistance and overweight are linked to conditions such as chronic inflammation, low immune system defenses but also, in case of new coronavirus infection, an increased risk of cytokine storm, which is an exaggerated response of the body to the external threat and which can lead to the formation of blood clots. But these substances are also able to block the infection by preventing the virus from entering the cell and its proliferation, just like curcumin. Epigallocatechin gallate suppresses viral replication while sulforaphane counteracts inflammation in the lungs. Therefore, we can say that the foods mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph are an aid to our defenses in the fight against the new coronavirus both directly, thanks to the antiviral action, and indirectly, through the regulation of insulin and by counteracting inflammation. It seems, as indicated in the study, that all these properties of berberine, curcumin, sulforaphane, quercetin, genistein and resveratrol are due to the ability of these substances to activate a protein, called Nrf2, at the base of all the processes both at the level of defenses and of metabolism.
However, it should be emphasized that against the new coronavirus diet alone is not enough but various measures must be put in place, such as hygiene and distancing.