Poor nutrition can lead to mutations of the viruses that attack your body and can cause you to get more dangerous forms of the flu and even AIDS and Ebola, according to researchers. In tests, deficiencies of selenium allowed the human influenza virus to mutate into more virulent forms in mice and it?s expected that similar mutations occur in humans.
Selenium is found in meat and in grains such as wheat and rice and helps the body to fight off infections. There is no need to supplement your diet to get adequate amounts of selenium, as long as you are adequately nourished.
?Once the mutations have occurred, even mice with normal nutrition are more susceptible to the newly virulent strain,? says Melinda Beck of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ?Poor nutritional status may contribute to the emergence of new viral strains and might promote epidemics.?
In the study, groups of mice with normal and selenium-deficient diets were exposed to a mild form of human flu virus. The malnourished mice developed more virulent forms of the virus than the well-fed ones. This leads to the conclusion that impoverished countries may have not only suffer more with diseases, due to poor health and inadequate health care?they may also contract more dangerous forms of the disease than exist in developed countries. These dangerous viruses may then spread to rich, well-fed countries and effect the populations there.
?It?s in everyone?s best interest to make sure that populations are well-fed?both ethically and morally, and for public health concerns,? says Beck. ?It?s a two-sided coin. More virulent strains will affect healthy populations as well.?
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