Coronavirus cure? How a keto diet may bolster your immune system
The coronavirus definitely has us feeling a little helpless. Perhaps that’s why the nation is out of toilet paper, we feel like all we can do is sit at home and wait to become infected. While we know that there’s no coronavirus cure (yet), it is safe to assume that the best thing you can do to do prevent infection and mitigate symptoms is to simply be as healthy as possible, and wash your damn hands.
The keto diet and overall health
The ketogenic diet works by starving your body from “quick fuel” carbohydrates so that it burns fat to use as energy. Known mostly as a weight-loss tool, the keto diet also boasts a number of additional benefits as well, including low inflammation and sharper mental and physical health to those who ascribe to the diet. But how is that a coronavirus cure?
While it’s definitely not a true cure for the coronavirus, a report released by the NIH found that the ketogenic diet can improve heart health and help control blood sugar for both diabetic and pre-diabetic patients.
Older patients with diabetes and heart disease do experience more adverse effects from coronavirus, including hospitalization and even death. It’s safe to assume that improving the degeneration of those diseases through diet can help the most at-risk patients mitigate their danger.
The keto diet and immunity
It turns out that there are even more benefits for ascribing to a ketogenic diet when it comes to a coronavirus cure. Recent research indicates that “going keto” may help your body defend itself from flu infections.
The Yale School of Medicine’s Akiko Iwasaki and colleagues previously found that the keto diet reduced inflammation in mice with gout. With inflammation being prevalent in both gout and flu, the team decided to explore the keto diet’s effects on flu-related inflammation.
Flu-related inflammation can severely damage the lungs. It’s worth mentioning that shortness of breath is a marker symptom of the coronavirus, as well as influenza A. Coronavirus patients in critical care are also struggling with lung damage and the inability to breathe without a respirator.
To test the keto diet’s effects on flu-related inflammation, the Yale team fed mice infected with influenza A – the most serious type flu– either a keto or standard diet for a week before infection. After four days, all seven of the mice fed a standard diet succumbed to the infection, compared to only five out of the 10 mice on the keto diet. Additionally, these keto diet mice also didn’t lose as much weight, which is usually a sign of flu infection in animals.
How exactly keto works to boost immunity
The team at Yale was able to narrow down the exact effects keto had on the mice’s bodies. The keto diet boosted the numbers of a specific T cell that’s found in the lungs. T cells are part of the body’s immune response, and the amped number of those cells reduced the vulnerability of the cells lining the lunges, making them more resistant to infection and increasing mucus production.
Akiko Iwasaki says that the extra mucus is protecting the mice, and trapping the flu virus to stop it from spreading. While the bodies of mice to differ from humans, scientists do have a starting point from which to boost immunity and help cure coronavirus, influenza and more.
In addition to exploring a keto diet by reducing carbohydrates and increasing plant-based foods, adding in daily multivitamins and consuming foods rich in Vitamin C can also help fight off infections until a coronavirus cure is found.