Researches have thrown light on the possibility of spicy Indian vegetarian menus restricting the number of swine flu deaths to just over 500 in a country with a population of 1.03 billion. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had initially warned that India would be the hotspot of swine flu impact.
Nutritionists, too, now attribute the muted impact of swine flu in India to spicy dishes, which are rich in anti-oxidants that boost the body's immunity system. Bangalore-based nutritionists told DNA that spicy Indian menus could just be the right answer to effectively prevent contracting the H1N1 virus.
Indians have a lot of vegetables, fruits and spices on their menu - a fitting recipe to fight the swine flu infection, the nutritionists said.
"Indian food has a lot of spices and herbs, vegetables and fruits, and there is no doubt that this has helped fight the infection among Indian swine flu patients, minimizing the mortality rate," says Farhana Afroz, chief nutritionist and head of dietetics department, Wockhardt Hospital, Bannerghatta Road.
A research by an Alabama team in the US has found that high levels of antioxidants -- present in spices, vegetables and fruits -- can neutralize a lethal action by a villainous protein that destroys crucial cells in the inner linings of the lungs.
These cells, known as epithelial cells, expel fluids from within the lungs and prevent pneumonia, the most common cause of death among H1N1 patients. But once the cells are destroyed by the protein, the lungs retain fluid, leading to pneumonia.
The Alabama research, published in the November issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, shows how antioxidants that are found in abundance in plant-based foods, might hold the key in preventing the flu virus from wreaking havoc on human lungs.
The research team first injected frog eggs with anti-oxidants, and then infused the M2 protein along with the lung cells of a mouse into them. They discovered that the antioxidants in the frog eggs stopped the M2 protein from destroying the mice's lung cells.