Food polyphenols constitute a large family of substances with beneficial properties in a large group of communicable and non-communicable diseases. These compounds support and improve the body’s defences against oxidative stress and are helpful in the prevention of pathologies related to metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, they exhibit anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. This chapter draws attention to certain nutritional components such as hesperidin and quercetin, which are emerging as good candidates for a complementary beneficial effect in the case of diseases caused by viruses, including COVID-19. These nutraceuticals have a complex mechanism of action, which involves both cellular defence against oxidative stress and the modulation of inflammation, which although normally is a defence, repair and activation mechanism of the immune system, it can elude its controls and become a systemic and destructive pathology (cytokine storm, respiratory distress syndrome). Furthermore, recent in silico simulation tests suggest that both hesperidin and quercetin may interfere with SARS-CoV-2 by binding to cell receptors and the proteolytic enzymes involved in its replication. In addition to the inhibitory effects on the virus at cellular level, the two flavonoids can have indirect effects in respiratory infectious diseases as they prevent or improve metabolic and vascular comorbidities that can complicate the clinical course. This brief review focuses on biochemical and pharmacological mechanisms of action of polyphenols in the context of the revaluation of dietary approaches to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases caused by viruses, with a special application to COVID-19.
Part of the book: Antioxidants