“Wash your hands,” is perhaps the single most common tip experts give for preventing a cold flu season—yet that age-old tip may soon have some competition.
A recent study tested the effectiveness of a natural mushroom extract at aiding the flu shot in preventing illness.
Michigan State University’s department of Food Science and Human Nutrition did a human study of the mushroom extract Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC).
The results were impressive.
Improving Flu Shot Results And Boosting Your Immune System During Flu Season With Help From AHCC
Building off earlier studies, researchers at Michigan State hypothesized that AHCC would improve the immune response of healthy people to the influenza vaccine.
In other words they believed AHCC would improve protection against getting the flu when given around the same time as a flu shot.
They tested this concept during the 2009-2010 flu season.
The study included 29 healthy adults, each of whom were given a flu shot; 14 of these adults then took by 3 grams of AHCC per day.
An analysis of white blood cells (which are involved in defending the body against both infectious disease and foreign materials) showed that those individuals who had been taking AHCC had increased levels of two specific types of white blood cells—natural killer cells (“NK cells”) and T cells—when compared to the group of participatants who had not taken the nutritional supplement.
Furthermore, antibody levels against the influenza B virus (the very thing that allows the flu vaccine to be effective) were also higher in the AHCC group when tested three weeks after they had been given the shot.
So the people in the AHCC supplementation group had better immunity against the flu virus, with greater levels of both white blood cells and antibodies, when compared to the control group, which received only the flu vaccine.
5 Key Takeaways
- AHCC has been shown in numerous studies to improve immune response by boosting the immune system.
- Researchers at Michigan State hypothesized that AHCC would improve the immune response of healthy people to the influenza vaccine.
- Getting the flu shot and then taking AHCC improves white blood cell levels and antibodies.
- Increased levels of white blood cells and antibodies are important in keeping you from getting sick when exposed to the flu virus.
- AHCC helps the flu vaccine in boosting your immune system during flu season—keeping you healthy and decreasing the chances you'll get sick.
A History of Improving Immune Response
One study, published in the journal of Nutrition Research, looked specifically at the effect AHCC had on boosting the immune system's response to the influenza (flu) virus.
Mice supplemented with AHCC then infected with the flu virus showed increased survival and maintained body weight during the infection when compared to controls.
Another study examined the usage of AHCC supplementation against the H5N1 avian influenza virus (bird flu), again in mice.
Mice given AHCC prior to infection showed an increased survival rate of 30 percent.
In addition to these flu-specific experiments, AHCC has undergone over 20 human clinical studies and has been the subject of over 30 scientific papers, making it one of the world’s most researched natural immune-modulating compounds.
How To Use This Information: Boosting Your Immune System During Flu Season
While time-tested techniques such as hand washing are still great ways to help prevent the spread of illness, the use of nutrition supplements for boosting the immune system during flu season is becoming increasingly popular.
It’s not hard to see why:
— Hand washing is meant to prevent infectious agents from entering the body.
— The immune system is responsible for killing off those same agents, even after they have invaded.
A cold or flu is a visible sign that your immune system failed to stop a germ; so strengthening that system decreases the likelihood that you’ll get sick in the first place.
Although research will continue in an effort to better understand how AHCC can best help prevent cold and flu viruses, it is already available at most local food health stores in the U.S. where it is quickly gaining popularity.
What have you done to avoid getting sick this flu season? Have you tried AHCC? Leave us a comment and let us know.