Keto as a Way of Life
Effects of Keto on Your Immune System
Every year, we all encounter Cold and Flu season. These ailments send many of us to the doctor or at least to the drug store to get help relieving the symptoms of those diseases.
Recently, concerns have risen about COVID 19, and everyone wants to know how they can stay safe.
Since we focus specifically on the a Keto / Low Carb Lifestyle on KetoGinger, we decided to do some research and find out how Keto might affect our immune systems.
We found a lot of excellent resources! So rather than trying to recreate what most of those resources have already said, I decided to just share some of those resources with a brief summary to get you started on your own research. My goal here is hopefully to arm you with information that may help you boost your immune system.
Keep in mind that Rebecca and I are not doctors. Much of what we found in the resources we’re sharing in this post is the result of experiments and tests that have merely SUGGESTED certain health benefits.
Everyone is different. Our immune systems and our individual biological make-up is all slightly different. I would never suggest that Keto is THE only way to boost your immune system. The things I’m sharing in this post are just bits of information that suggest Keto could be helpful. I recommend doing more of your own research on this, using this post as a starting point.
Before you go full throttle into a way of living that might drastically change what you’re already doing, please ALWAYS consult a trained physician.
Now… Let’s get into what we found.
Eating Keto Improves Defense Capabilities in your Respiratory System (Lungs)
In a study posted on the Science Immunology website, researchers fed mice a Keto diet.
The scientists found that eating a Ketogenic diet resulted in expansion of T cells in the lungs, improving certain functions which enhance antiviral resistance. Expansion of these protective T cells required metabolic adaptation to a ketogenic diet. Taking exogenous ketones did not have the same effect.
That means you have to stick with a Keto / Low carb lifestyle in order to gain these protective benefits in your lungs.
I looked up what T Cells are and why they’re important, and found a good explanation on the US National Library of Medicine website:
Apparently, the respiratory tract poses a real challenge to the immune system because it has such a large surface area within your body. In other words, your lungs and whole breathing tract gets exposed to air directly from outside your body every few seconds as you breath.
Also, all the blood vessels in your lungs are very close to the surface. That’s how oxygen gets passed into your blood. But that also makes it dangerous for your blood if there are bacteria or viruses present in the air you breath.
That’s where T Cells come into play. Through a complex system of defense and cleaning capabilities, they help prevent germs from getting into your blood. Those little defenders appear to get a boost from a Keto way of eating.
That’s particularly important for defending you against Flu, COVID 19 and other airborne illnesses.
Being Overweight May weaken the Body’s Immune System
According to this article in ‘The Guardian’, scientists have found that simply being overweight may prevent your body from fighting off infections of all kinds. Researchers at Boston University suggested that gaining too much weight might upset a mechanism in the body that reacts to foreign organisms (ie. germs)
As most of you reading this may already know, Keto is an excellent way to lose and maintain healthy weight.
Rebecca and I are living proof of that fact along with a whole bunch of other Keto Lifestylers.
Sugar in the Blood Appears to Interfere with Cells that Fight Infection
This was discovered during a study at Loma Linda University. We read the findings of this study in several articles posted by Doctors and Nutritionists across the web.
The study determined that sugars impaired the main type of white blood cell in the body called ‘neutrophils’. One of their primary jobs is to take out bacteria and viruses. Sugar basically wears these cells down so they can’t do their job.
One of the better articles we found about this is located here:
According the that article, being on Keto dramatically reduces blood glucose levels.
We know this from experience since we consistently keep blood sugar monitored for ourselves, and we know several others who eat Keto and do the same.
I will add a thought to this: It’s well known that people who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes are more prone to infection than people who maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Sugar Keeps Vitamin C from Doing its Job
Everyone knows that Vitamin C is an important Immune System Booster.
According to Dr. Phil Maffertone, “A powerful antioxidant, it impacts immune function, and its presence in food can influence various conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, asthma, osteoarthritis, macular degeneration and cataracts, and others.” This quoat can be found here.
There are two ways Sugar does its dirty work on Vitamin C
We found several studies which suggest that sugar interferes with the ability of blood cells to absorb Vitamin C. We found an excellent article by LivOnLabs here.
In that article, they discuss why Vitamin C is important to us, how sugar interferes with its absorption in the blood, and some problems that can occur for you when this happens.
In a study posted on the US National Library of Medicine website, researchers found that the presence of glucose in the small intestines interferes with Vitamin C absorption into the body.
That study isn’t super exciting to read, but go ahead and take a look at it if you’re having trouble sleeping.
A surprising amount of the nutrients that get into our bodies are absorbed through the small intestines.
Just to reiterate; eating Keto reduces the amount of sugar in the body and in the blood, so keto may be a good way to ensure your body is getting the Vitamin C that you need to boost your Immune System.
Some Keto Foods may Provide Immune System Benefits
Many Keto foods are nutrient rich, and contain high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and other important nutrients that boost the body’s immune system.
There is an excellent article on healthline.com that discusses all the health benefits of Omega 3: one of those benefits is the strengthening of the immune system.
Another article that we found particularly informative and interesting is posted on Keto Connect
That post not only lists several Keto foods that are rich in Omega 3, it also details some of the benefits of balancing Omega 3 and Omega 6. Americans consume far too many Omega 6 fatty acids, which causes quit a few problems, including weakened immune systems.
Another article posted on Healthline details 15 foods that boost the Immune System. I was happy to see that most of those foods are completely Keto-friendly! Read that article here.
Vitamin D is synthesized in your skin when you are exposed to sunlight. Often, during the winter months, people get difficient in this vitamin, and it affects their immune systems.
Many doctors and scientists believe that’s one reason why Colds and Flu are so prevailant during winter months.
Vitamin D is important for helping your body absorb calcium in your bones, but it also helps boost your immune system, improve lung health and healing, and provides anti inflamitory effects in the body.
The good news for people who eat Keto is that we have several options for very good Vitamin D rich Keto foods!
According to WebMd, and other sources, good sources of Vitamin D include:
- Fatty Fish, like tuna, macheral, and salmon
- Beef Liver (and other organ meats)
- Cheese (specifically cheddar)
- Egg Yolks
A Common Sense Approach
One of the best posts we found was written by Dr. Bret Scher, MD on The Diet Doctor blog is titled, “Boosting Your Immune System to Fight the Coronavirus: What You Need to Know”
This post is specifically about COVID 19, but I think it applies to boosting your immune system for any reason; especially where a low carb way of eating is concerned. Dr. Scher notes that we’re all different, and we may not all react the same under similar dietary conditions.
Use common sense. Do your own research, and find a healthful diet and exercise plan that works for you.
“While we can’t prove that low-carb nutrition boosts immune function per se, it makes sense to limit the conditions (e.g. high blood pressure or high blood sugar) that might make things worse.” ~Dr. Bret Scher, MD
The most important thing to note is that as long as you are taking steps to improve your health, you’re on the right track.
Everything you can do to improve your health will assist in any fight against infection. Whether it’s a cold, the Flu, COVID 19, or any of a number of “germs” that might be out to get us.
I’m convinced that a low carb diet is a great way to improve your health because it has worked so well for Rebecca and me. Our instances of illness of every type has reduced since we’ve been Keto. She used to get the Flu every year without fail. Since we’ve started a Keto way of life (for nearly 3 years now) she hasn’t gotten it once.
Our allergies have improved. Blood sugar has dramatically improved. We both sleep better, have more energy, and have noticed a dozen or more small changes in our bodies and general well-being that we believe are marked improvements.
We believe a low carb way of eating brings a host of health benefits beyond boosting your immune system. Since that isn’t the purpose of this post, we didn’t go into them, but do some Google searching, join a keto Facebook group or even hit up YouTube. In fact, do a YouTube search for Dr. Ken Berry or Dr. Jason Fung. Those men are fantastic resources that will help you understand the health benefits of Keto.
We encourage you to investigate a low carb way of eating as a great measure you may take to improve your overall, long term health and the strength of your Immune System. Please let us know if you have questions, if you would like more resources, or if you have a testimony about how Keto has helped you! We’d love to hear from you.
Until then, stay safe, and be well.
Love and Keto
Thanks for Reading
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