Food Additive Hinders Flu Vaccine?

Have you taken a flu vaccine only to soon after experience a terrible bout of influenza?  The culprit may be a common food additive/preservative in the processed foods you are eating.  Scientists have discovered that the commonly used food chemical TBHQ may be hindering the efficacy of flu vaccines…

food chemicals-TBHQ


Scientists have linked the common food preservative TBHQ to an altered immune response that possibly hinders flu vaccines…


“If you get a vaccine, but part of the immune system doesn’t learn to recognize and fight off virus-infected cells, then this can cause the vaccine to be less effective. We determined that when tBHQ was introduced through the diet, it affected certain cells that are important in carrying out an appropriate immune response to the flu.”

-Robert Freeborn, a fourth-year doctoral student who led the study with Dr. Cheryl Rockwell, an associate professor in pharmacology and toxicology


Study overview

In a National Institute of Health (NIH) funded study using mice scientists studied the level of T cells and efficacy of the immune system to fight off influenza virus after the mice had been given food containing the additive TBHQ. Overall findings included:

-Reduced number of CD8 T cells in the lungs

-Reduction in the number of CD4 and CD8 T cells that could identify the flu virus

-Widespread inflammation and mucus production in the lungs of mice who ate food containing TBHQ

-Slowed down initial activation of T cells, reducing their ability to fight off an infection sooner

-In the second phase of the study TBHQ hindered the immune system’s ability to remember how to respond to the flu virus




Where found

TBHQ is a petroleum-based chemical used as a preservative for vegetable oils and animal fats. It is commonly found in packaged breads and baked goods products, breakfast cereals, frozen waffles, toaster pastries, snack crackers, chips, conventional and fast food restaurant items, and baked goods in grocery store bakery sections, among others.  TBHQ is not always listed on the ingredient label.

Source: The Food Hacker’s Handbook


Red Flags

Adverse effects associated with the preservative TBHQ include stomach/digestive problems, headaches, allergic reactions, ringing in ears, edema (and subsequent weight gain), swelling of face, feet, hands, ADHD, skin reactions/dermatitis, urticaria, angioedema, sleepiness, rhinitis, breathing difficulties, asthma, allergies, vasculitis, flushing, excessive sweating, vision/eye problems, joint pain. Some researchers have argued that chronic exposure to this additive may induce carcinogenicity.

Source: The Food Hacker’s Handbook


Solution:  Avoid processed foods (including those at conventional and fast food restaurants) and always read the ingredients labels (remember, this additive and other chemicals of concern are not always listed on the ingredients labels!). For more information on where TBHQ and other chemicals of concern are hiding, what health concerns the scientific data has linked them to, and how to avoid them get our book:

Food Hacker BOOKCOVER-CFL  The Food Hacker’s Handbook



Study reference:  Conducted by researchers at Michigan State University, the study was presented at the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando, Florida, April 7, 2019.