A keto diet may protect you from the flu, study suggests

This study was done on mice so you probably want to make sure you still get a flu shot this year (talk to a medical pro). But new research suggests that a ketogenic diet, which is very low in carbohydrates and often high in fats, could protect someone from a flu infection.

The study, published in the journal Science Immunology, found that a keto diet protected mice from lethal influenza-A virus infection and disease. 

A special immune cell called gamma delta T (γδ T) creates a mucus in the lungs and can help fight off the flu, researchers said. The study found that swapping out carbs for meats, fish, and vegetables low in starch helps bodies release gamma delta T cells. (Story continues below)

The scientists took groups of mice and fed some a low-carb diet before injecting them with the flu. Fewer rodents who were on low-carb diets died from the virus. However, mice on the keto diet who were bred without gamma delta T also died.

"Using mice lacking γδ T cells, the authors have established the functional importance of these cells in conferring protection," the published study said. "[Ketogenic diet] feeding resulted in an expansion of γδ T cells in the lung that improved barrier functions, thereby enhancing antiviral resistance."

The researchers said that using a keto diet to bolster gamma delta T cells could be an "previously unrecognized avenue for influenza disease prevention and treatment."

You can read more about the study here.

You can learn more about a ketogenic diet here.


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