Now that the world is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, people are advised to help boost immunity by eating foods rich in Vitamins C and D. And, if you’re following the keto weight loss diet, you might be wondering if your diet is helping to boost your immune system.
Related reading: Immune System Boosting Foods For Keto
While there’s no actual human research on the effects of the keto diet on protection from infection by the coronavirus, an animal study showed that the diet protected against the flu virus.
Having a strong immune system can help us to better combat the virus and recover from the dreaded disease and it’s known that the keto diet certainly has some advantages over a high carb and low fat diet.
Related reading: 5 Amazing Health Benefits of a Keto Diet
In this article we’ll look at how a keto diet could help boost your immunity and protect you from Covid-19.
People Who Are At Risk for Covid-19
According to health experts, certain groups of people are at high risk for severe complications due to Covid-19.
These are people whose immune system has been compromised, such as those who have kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Elderly and obese people are also among those groups of individuals who are at risk of catching the virus. According to the World Health Organization,
“Two groups of people are at a higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 disease. These are older people (people over 60 years old) and those with underlying medical conditions.”
Age is usually the biggest risk factor. According to a study done on more than 72,000 Chinese patients with Covid-19, most of those who died were over the age of 70.
In another study done, half of the patients who were in the critical stage had pre-existing conditions. These conditions include diabetes, chronic lung conditions, heart disease, and cancer.
All these conditions are known to compromise the body’s immune function. Because of this, the CDC has advised these groups of people to avoid attending social gatherings and limit social contact as much as possible.
How to Boost Immunity with the Keto Diet
Since immuno-compromised individuals are at higher risk for COVID-19, it’s critical that you find ways to boost immunity. Aside from getting plenty of sleep, you should also address your nutrient deficiencies by eating a healthy balanced diet.
Although there’s not yet any known diet that’s guaranteed to protect you from COVID-19, the keto weight loss diet is known for its pro-immune system properties.
Related reading: Does Low Carb Dieting Result In Successful Weight Loss?
During research at Yale University scientists found that mice who were infected with influenza A (the most serious type of flu) and were fed the keto diet had a higher survival rate than animals on a standard high-carb diet.
It was found that the diet caused release of mucus producing immune system cells in the linings of the lungs which stopped the flu virus from spreading into the body.
John Tregoning of Imperial College London said of the study:
Switching to a keto diet may help boost the immune system so that it is better programmed to fight off the infection.
This means that it can help to improve your immune system, which is your best defense against the dreaded virus.
Here are some ways on how you can boost immunity with the keto weight loss diet.
1. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
It’s known that getting infected with Covid-19 results in a lot of inflammation. One reason why people who are overweight or have underlying health conditions fare so badly when they get this virus is because they already have underlying chronic inflammation.
One of the proven benefits of a keto weight loss diet is to reduce inflammation. As you know, this diet requires you to ditch the majority of carbohydrate foods, which are known to cause inflammation.
In addition, if you’re going to follow the low-carb keto diet, your liver will respond by producing ketones. These include body beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB, which is believed to help minimize inflammation.
Inflammation is an immune activity that can be helpful in some instances but there are times when the immune response will get out of control and will end up damaging cells.
The endogenous (produced in the body) beta-hydroxybutyrate can help to address this problem by modifying the body’s inflammatory response.
2. Prevents Diabetes
As mentioned, those with diabetes are among those groups of people who are at risk for COVID-19. Several studies have shown that the keto diet can help to lower both blood sugar and blood pressure, which is necessary for those with diabetes and hypertension.
Related reading: How Does a Keto Diet Balance Blood Sugar?
Reversing your diabetes is one way to boost immunity. When your immune system is improved, your risk of getting sick with the virus will be lower.
3. Improve Gut Health to Boost Immunity
The majority of your immune system is located in the gut so having a healthy microbiome is essential if you want to have an effective immune system.
The non-starchy vegetables that you eat (or should do) on the keto diet provides prebiotic fiber that feed the good bacteria in your gut. Both are needed for a healthy gut microbiome.
Related reading: What Are the Best Low Carb Vegetables?
By following the keto diet you deprive the pathogenic (disease causing) gut bacteria and yeasts of sugar, which they can feed on causing them to overgrow causing problems.
Eating grains which contain gluten, common on the standard Western diet, can damage the gut lining. This allows partially digested food and toxins to leak from the gut into the blood stream causing an immune response.
By excluding these on a keto diet you can avoid this damage which causes immune system dysregulation.
In a study done on mice, it was found that a higher level of ketones on a keto weight loss diet can help to increase the production of intestinal stem cells, which can help to heal the gut.
4. Keto Supplies Nutrients for Immune System Function
Good nutrition is needed to protect us against illnesses of all kinds.
The keto diet, when done right, will provide you with the good protein that is needed for proper function of the immune system.
The good protein I am talking about comes from grass-fed meat, wild fatty fish, organic pastured eggs and full fat organic dairy products.
It’s known that zinc has anti-viral effects by preventing the replication of the virus once it gets inside your cells.
Zinc is high in grass-fed beef and seafood and is found in other keto foods such as eggs, yogurt, seeds and nuts.
Vitamin D is needed for the proper function of the immune system. Several studies found that people who died from Covid-19 infection were lacking in vitamin D and recommended taking a supplement.
Scientists from around the world have warned that people should not be taking high doses of Vitamin D to prevent the infection. There is as much danger in having too much as having too little.
On a keto diet you will be getting Vitamin D from salmon, cod liver oil, sardines and eggs. It’s best to get a blood test for your Vitamin D levels before you take supplements.
Vitamin E & selenium
Deficiencies of Vitamin E and selenium can result in poor immune function against viruses. Good sources of Vitamin E in the keto diet are nuts, avocado, green leafy vegetables, eggs and sunflower seeds.
Selenium is found in Brazil nuts, seeds, mushrooms, seafood, poultry, meat and eggs.
While high enough oral doses of Vitamin C is known to shorten the length of colds a number of trials have shown that high doses of vitamin C given intravenously to people in hospital with Covid-19 infection has shortened the illness. In fact no one given Vitamin C has died.
The keto diet provides plenty of Vitamin C if you eat broccoli, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage and berries.
5. May Help to Minimize the Severity of Flu
In one study done on mice, it was found that the keto weight loss diet helped to protect the mice against the H1N1 influenza virus.
During the study, half the mice were fed with a high-carb diet while the other half followed the low carb ketogenic diet. Then all the mice involved in the study were infected with flu. Half of those who were fed with the keto diet survived while those on the high-carb diet all died.
From this I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that the keto diet could help protect against Covid-19.
There’s strong evidence to support the many health benefits of following a low carb diet like keto. And now that we’re dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s even more important than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Following the keto weight loss diet is one of the best ways to boost immunity especially for people who are suffering from medical conditions that have compromised their immune systems.
The keto diet can help to improve your immunity by minimizing inflammation, reversing diabetes, reducing the severity of flu, and improving your gut health.
But whether your immune system is compromised or not, it’s highly recommended that you follow the current guidelines set by health authorities when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Minimize your exposure to the virus by avoiding social interaction and staying at home.