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Researchers in Australia found that mice who ate high-fiber diets were less likely to get infected by the influenza A virus, one of the most common viral infections worldwide. The study
is published in the journal Cell
The benefits only came from inulin fiber, a soluble type that ferments in the gut. Once that process took place, the fiber activated cytotoxic white blood cells that killed other cells infected with the flu virus, says study author Benjamin Marsland, Ph.D., a professor in the department of immunology and pathology at Monash University in Melbourne.
He and his team believe that one day, fermented fiber could be added to flu vaccines to make them more effective, though more research needs to be done.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The study doesn’t say how much fiber you should eat to help you dodge the flu, but it does have to be the fermentable type. Marsland suggests getting it from chicory, artichokes, plums, and citrus fruits. (Inulin-rich foods are not a replacement for the vaccine.)