Preventing flu: Scientists find bacteria in Japanese pickled turnips which could boost immune system

Scientists have discovered that eating a traditional Japanese pickle could have “protective effects” in preventing people from catching the flu.

Human trials have been started after a study in mice showed the bacterium in suguki, a pickled turnip dish popular in Japan, reduced the likelihood the animals would contract illness.

an image of a health drink

According to the findings, which have been published in the journal Letters in Applied Microbiology, the Lactobacillus brevis bacteria led to increased production of disease-fighting antibodies – including flu-specific ones.

The impact in mice was strong enough to prevent infection from the H1N1 flu strain.

Researchers said a new study was now under way, in which they are giving people a probiotic drink containing the same KB290 strain of the bacterium found in suguki.

Study author Naoko Waki, from the Japanese food company Kagome, said: “Our results show that when a particular strain of Lactobacillus brevis is eaten by mice, it has protective effects against influenza virus infection.”

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