KETOGENIC DIET AND IMMUNITY
Support in the fight against viruses
The autumn and winter period is undoubtedly associated with a weakening of immunity and the occurrence of many disorders of the body. However, it is important to pay attention to what affects the increase in inflammation and the development of diseases. One of the main causes of immunodeficiency is malnutrition or unbalanced diet. Deficiencies in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals lead to impaired immune system function and increased susceptibility to infection. In addition, nutrition affects the intestinal microbiota, which is the backbone of everyone’s immune system.
The keto diet is distinguished by limiting the intake of carbohydrates and increasing the proportion of fats in the daily energy requirements. It is an undeniable fact that fats play an important role in the efficient functioning of the body, and a low carbohydrate supply leads to many positive health effects proven by scientific studies. A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (LCHF) leads to a reduction in inflammation by regulating glucose and insulin metabolism, blood pressure and lipid profile, supporting the body’s methylation and nervous system function, among other things.
Investigating the effect of diet on immunity – an experiment
A study in mice in late 2019 examined the effects of a ketogenic diet on influenza virus infection. One group of mice was fed a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet and the other was fed a carbohydrate-rich diet. The mice fed the ketogenic diet showed a significant increase in γδ T lymphocytes in the lungs, thereby increasing resistance to viruses. The researchers also reveal that diet-induced ketone bodies inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory T cells in the gut. Unlike a high-carbohydrate diet, the results showed the ability of the ketogenic diet to provide protection against influenza virus infection.
A similar situation applies to upper respiratory tract infections and SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, commonly known as coronavirus. Inducing a state of ketosis in patients inhibits activation of the NLRP3 proinflammatory pathway, systemic inflammation and high oxidative stress. This is crucial for the pathogenesis of COVID-19.
Diet, and immunity – why does the keto diet have such an impact?
The main energy substrate in the ketogenic diet is fat, and adequate sources of fat carry many health benefits. One unique form of dietary fat is medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Among other things, MCTs have been shown to promote lipid catabolism and stimulate brown adipose tissue thermogenesis. The use of medium-chain fatty acids improves the metabolic characteristics associated with obesity, leading to a reduction in inflammation, co-morbidities, and thus increased immunity.
A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients and regular diagnostics is the best way to prevent and treat disorders of the body and increase its resistance to diseases and viruses. We should not forget about the important role of physical activity, sleep and regeneration. The elimination of stress and taking care of proper mental state also contribute to the increase of immunity.