Nutritional and Food Protection Against Epidemic Emerging Neuropathy. Epidemiological Findings in the Unique Disease-Free Urban Area of Cuba

Barnouin J, Verdura Barrios T, Chassagne M, Perez Cristia R, Arnaud J, Fleites Mestre P, Montoya ME, Favier A. Nutritional and food protection against epidemic emerging neuropathy. Epidemiological findings in the unique disease-free urban area of Cuba. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2001 Sep;71(5):274-85.

A survey was conducted through the SECUBA (SEguridad alimentaria en CUba y Buena Alimentacion) research program in Cuban healthy smokers living in Guantanamo and in Havana. The aim of the survey was to investigate biological and nutritional factors connected with the occurrence of zero epidemic neuropathy (EN) observed in Guantanamo urban area since the disease emerged in Cuba. Blood riboflavin status and carotenoid and Selenium concentrations were higher in Guantanamo than in Havana smokers. Food dietary quantities of plantain banana, pepper (Capsicum spp.), bovine meat and milk products were higher in Guantanamo. Inversely, foods rich in cholesterol, especially eggs, were more consumed in Havana. Through riboflavin, carotenoid and Selenium contents and specific antioxidants substances (indoleamines, capsaicin), the foods more consumed in Guantanamo could be considered as EN protective factors. Disease protective effects could be exerted via enhancement of defence mechanisms against free radical damage and related mechanisms focused on redox recycling of glutathione and local protection from carotenoids. Finally, the results of the present study should help Cuba, through a better EN control, to improve long-term food safety and define healthier dietary habits.


This research was conducted to find out why there was no disease incidence in Guantanomo despite the fact the virus was present in that region. The conclusion comes down to the food that those people were eating and the nutritional benefit it afforded in providing a healthy, robust immune function.

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