A recent study conducted in East Lansing’s Michigan State University under the supervision of Robert Freeborn and his team of researchers, has found that the food additives which help to keep the packaged food fresh, can weaken the immune response in body against influenza.
The additive bearing the name “tert-butylhydroquinone” (tBHQ) , often present in packaged foods and oils used for frying chips, has been identified as a synthetic antioxidant preventing the deterioration of fat and oils in food through oxidation.
The study conducted by Freeborn and his team of researchers on mice at the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics revealed that the key in the fight against the influenza virus are the “helper” T cells and the “killer” T cells which at first coordinate with the immune system and then destroys the targeted infected cells. The mice which were fed with tBHQ diet took longer to activate both helper and killer T cells further weakening the immune system to influenza. Furthermore the researchers too found that the additive hindered even with the immune systems “memory response” to other diseases too as per the research conducted on the mice revealed.
As the influenza virus is one of the serious causes of deaths in worldwide resulting in 650,000 deaths and in U.S. alone is said to have caused 80,000 deaths in 2017–2018, scientists are yet to confirm about the intake of tBHQ. Reports reveal the consumption is almost double the maximum amount allowed by the expert organizations. Robert Freeborn says that as the consumption of tBHQ is hard to figure out since the amount is hardly listed on the ingredients table, consuming healthy foods, low fat diet and limiting down to the processed food is a way how the tBHQ consumption could be limited or reduced to a certain level.