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Healthy diet fights infection

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We all know that proper nutrition is key for good health and very likely a key for fighting infection. It seems like a no brainer, intuitively, but do we know why?

Richard Lamb and his post doctoral fellow Virginie Mieulet have perhaps come up with an explanation and it revolves around an important amino acid found in healthy diets. While it is still early in their research, a sneak peak in an article published in Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry from the University of Alberta, tells us that they have discovered an amino acid called arginine which is necessary for letting the body know it is under attack by infection. Arginine may also be the mechanism producing chronic inflammation like that found in arthritis. Too much arginine may cause the body to go into hyperactive healing state causing pronounced inflammation as the body thinks it is under attack.

Healthy people have microphages which are the first cells to arrive at the infection. They destroy the infected cells and present a molecule that is recognized by the immune system and attracts more immune fighting cells to the area much like sending up a flare. According to Lamb it is known that arginine is essential for the function of macrophages.

Arginine is so important, that even when introduced to a malnourished lab model, the infection is better fought. “This is major work,” said Lamb. “If this holds true in humans it shows that one aspect of nutrition that is critical is the level of amino acids.”

One consequence of the study could be preemptive measurement in third world countries where infection kills or disables a significant portion of a population. If diets can be altered, perhaps the number of deadly infections could be avoided. And greater health achieved.

Source University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, ScienceDaily


 

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