A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet like the Keto regimen has its fans, but influenza apparently isn’t one of them.

In a recent laboratory study by Yale University, mice there were fed a ketogenic diet were better able to combat the flu virus than mice that were fed food high in carbohydrates.

A ketogenic diet focuses on the elimination of carbohydrates and replacing them with healthy fats.  The diet includes meat, fish, poultry, and lots of vegetables, primarily greens and high fiber vegetables.  Because it is low-carb, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, yams, rice, etc are prohibited as well.

As per an article in Scientific Daily, “Ketogenic diet helps tame flu virus“, the diet activates a subset of T cells in the lungs that were not previously associated with the immune system’s response to influenza, in turn, enhances mucus reproduction from airway cells that can effectively trap the virus.

According to the Science Daily article, research had found that immune system activators called inflammasomes can cause harmful immune system responses in their host and that the ketogenic diet blocked the formation of inflammasomes.

The study tested mice that were fed a ketogenic diet and infected with the influenza virus had a higher survival rate than mice on a high-carb or normal diet.  They found that the mice fed the ketogenic diet triggered the release of gamma delta T cells, immune system cells that produce mucus in the cell linings of the lungs and the high-carb alternative diets did not.

The findings concluded, “This study shows that the way the body burns fat to produce ketone bodies from the food we eat can fuel the immune system to fight flu infection,” Dixit, the head researcher, had said.

Sources:

Science Daily, “Ketogenic diet helps tame flu virus”, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191115190327.htm, November 15, 2019 – as sourced by Yale University.