Dietary antioxidants and infectious diseases

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The role of antioxidants in helping to prevent diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and various neurodegenerative disorders arising due to oxidative stress has long been recognised. But recent researches have also highlighted their importance in progression and control of infectious diseases. Antioxidants can be endogenously produced by human body or externally supplied through foods and/or supplements. Dietary antioxidants have been related to modulate the host susceptibility or resistance to infectious diseases. This chapter focuses on the beneficiary effects of dietary antioxidants in limiting and preventing the progression of infectious diseases. Antioxidants can help in fighting infectious diseases in several ways. In addition to ameliorating the deteriorating and degenerative effects of reactive species, they also help in building or maintaining healthy immune cells to fight the pathogens. Many pathogens and their metabolites produce free radicals which help in establishing their virulence and pathogenicity. Antioxidants aid in limiting the progression by neutralising the free radicals. Some dietary antioxidants like phenolics and flavonoids also possess antimicrobial activities. Antimicrobial activities can be attributed to their ability to inhibit various enzymes and physiological processes in bacteria and viruses. Phenolics can also form complexes with proteins such as microbial adhesins, enzymes and cell envelope transport proteins and inactivate them. Alterations in membrane fluidity and quorum sensing inhibition by these molecules can also contribute to their antimicrobial activities.




Kaur, J., Kaur, R., & Kaur, A. (2018). Dietary antioxidants and infectious diseases. In Infectious Diseases and Your Health (pp. 307–316). Springer Singapore.

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