KETO and immunity
People are constantly trying to find ways to boost their immunity. With the KETO diet becoming more popular, many are wondering about the effects of the KETO diet and whether it’s possible to improve immunity by following the KETO diet.
Although research has only been conducted on mice at the University of Yale thus far, researchers believe that the KETO diet can have immune boosting functions.
This study from Goldberg et al. (2019) looked at the effects of mice with influenza that were fed with a KETO diet. They infected 20 mice with the influenza A virus, the most serious strain. The first 10 mice were fed a normal diet and soon all these subjects died from the virus. When looking at the mice that were fed a KETO diet, only 5 out of the 10 mice were killed by the infection.
What did the study conclude?
The KETO diet prompted the expansion of T-cells in the mice which lead to an increased amount of mucus in the lungs that effectively traps the virus. It also decreased the inflammatory effect of the virus.
The T-cells acts against inflammatory diseases such as the flu. This has scientist believing that it can have the same effect on humans, pending further studies. Although the physiology of humans and mice differ greatly, this still gives researchers reason to further study KETO and the immune system.
How does the KETO diet boost immunity?
1) The KETO diet includes foods that contain vitamins & minerals that can boost immunity like:
- Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, tomatoes & bell peppers (high in vitamin C)
- Salmon, beef, eggs, sardines & sugar free yoghurt (vitamin D)
- Vegetable oils, almonds, seeds & spinach (vitamin E)
- Red meats, shellfish & dairy (Zinc)
- Leafy green vegetables (Folate)
- Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli & eggs (Vitamin A)
- Broccoli, chicken breast & tuna (Vitamin B6)
2) A KETO diet decreases obesity. Obesity causes the body to be more susceptible to diseases and infections.
3) Ketones that are produced during a KETO diet can be used to feed the immune system.
The KETO diet can help improve your quality of sleep.
Getting enough rest is one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy immune system. By helping the body cut down on excess weight, the KETO diet can help decrease daytime sleepiness and help individuals go into a deeper sleep at night. These results were published by the Medical University of South Carolina after conducting an experiment on 6 obese people that were following a KETO diet. A lack of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and excessive slow-wave sleep were seen in all subjects at enrolment. Weight loss led to an increase in REM sleep and a decrease in slow-wave sleep to near normal levels.
A KETO diet does lead to insomnia in the initial stages due to increased energy and mental clarity. However, this subsides as the body stays in ketosis and results in deeper sleep.
Although more research is needed to see what the KETO diet can offer the immune system, initial studies show that there is reason for hope and shows how much more there is to learn about what a KETO diet can offer.
 Goldberg, E., Molony, R., Kudo, E., Sidorov, S., Kong, Y., Dixit, V. and Iwasaki, A., 2019. Ketogenic diet activates protective γδ T cell responses against influenza virus infection. Science Immunology, 4(41), p.2026.
 Castro, A., Gomez-Arbelaez, D., Crujeiras, A., Granero, R., Aguera, Z., Jimenez-Murcia, S., Sajoux, I., Lopez-Jaramillo, P., Fernandez-Aranda, F. and Casanueva, F., 2018. Effect of A Very Low-Calorie Ketogenic Diet on Food and Alcohol Cravings, Physical and Sexual Activity, Sleep Disturbances, and Quality of Life in Obese Patients. Nutrients, 10(10), p.1348.