Food and Nutrition: Dutch Research Identifies Foods That Help Prevent Respiratory Tract Infections
: Dutch researchers from University of Twente-Netherlands led by pediatrician Dr Ellen van der Gaag in a news study on the effect of unprocessed, pure food on children's health, specifically on the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections have also discovered certain foods that can help prevent respiratory tract infections.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
In the current climate, even an ordinary cold can have serious consequences. A child with a cold will be prevented from going to school or after-school childcare facilities, and his or her parents are then obliged to stay at home. They will have to be tested for COVID-19, spending days on waiting lists for these tests. As winter approaches and common colds grow more frequent, Dr Ellen van der Gaag's findings have become particularly relevant.
The study identified foods that prevent respiratory tract infections or reduce their duration.
The study describes how certain foods can help to prevent respiratory tract infections, both in children and adults. These foods include prebiotics and probiotics, follow-on milk (formulations for babies), garlic, kiwifruit, fish oil and xylitol.
At the same time foods that can reduce the duration of an infection include probiotics, kiwifruit, fish oil, and elderberry syrup.
This is a so-called "narrative review," in which Dr Van der Gaag searched the international literature for the effects of generally available food products and their influence on upper respiratory tract infections.
Altogether the study team examined 33 studies in which these food products were shown to have a significantly positive outcome.
In early March Dr van der Gaag received a great deal of publicity from a variety of newspapers, journals, magazines, and radio and television programs for the results of her study into the effect of unprocessed and natural food on children's health. Dr Van der Gaag also carried out several intervention studies on children (1-4 years old) with constantly recurring colds and coughs ie "sniffly kids."
Interestingly the dietary introduction of four foodstuffs full-fat milk, butter, beef and green vegetables yielded a significant reduction in the number of upper respiratory tract infections, days off with a cold, coughing and the use of antibiotics. The children also made fewer visits to the family doctor, suffered less fatigue and slept better.
All these studies were carried out before the coronavirus pandemic. They were not, therefore, tested for their effects on SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection, and no conclusions can be drawn on its effectiveness in this regard.
A proper good diet strengthens the body's immune system and the body capacity for recuperation (this thesis). The battle of individual patients against coronavirus depends on a wel
l-functioning immune system, so certain general principles will certainly hold; however, it has not been demonstrated with COVID-19 because this virus only recently came into existence.
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