Keto diet is perhaps the most popular diet in the world. My sister is on it now and she is always talking about how good it is, from losing weight to lowering blood sugar levels. These are clichés I’ve long known. But a new Yale study has just surprised me with its finding: Keto diet may have the power to fight flu!
What is keto diet?
Keto diet is a low-carb and high-fat diet, which includes meat, fish, poultry and non-starchy vegetables.
When you eat less than 50 grams of carbs a day for 3 to 4 days, your body will run out of fuel. Since there are not enough carbs, your body will start to break down protein and fat for energy, which can lead to weight loss.
Keto diet can tame flu virus
The research fed mice either a keto or standard diet for a week and then make them infected with influenza A, the most serious type of the virus.
Four days after being affected, all mice fed a standard diet died, while half of the mice fed a keto diet survived. These keto diet mice also didn’t lose as much weight, which is a common sign of flu infection in animals.
With keto diet, the specific cells of the immune system were promoted and produced more mucus in the linings of the lung. The researchers suggested that the increased mucus is important for protecting the mice, because it traps the flu virus to stop it from spreading.
"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," said co-senior author Visha Deep Dixit, professor at Yale University.
Although mice and human beings have different metabolisms, a keto diet may have the potential to protect people similarly from the flu.