Weird Medicine

Keto Diet Benefits Could Help Prevent Flu, Study Finds

Keto diet is known for helping people reduce weight. But the eating plan has been getting more attention over the past years due to the growing list of its health benefits. 

Advocates and dieters claimed the keto could also help improve heart health, brain function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Now, another health benefit added to the list is lower risk of getting the flu. 

A new study, published in the journal Science Immunology, shows that eating a low-carb diet, like keto, increases the body’s ability to combat the flu virus. Researchers found that the approach could activate a subset of T cells in the lungs that support the immune system's response to influenza.

"This was a totally unexpected finding," Akiko Iwasaki, senior study author from Yale University, said in a statement

The increased presence of the T cells in the lungs enhances mucus production from airway cells. This then traps the flu virus and prevents it from spreading and causing infection. 

The findings support earlier research by two trainees at Yale. Researchers first suggested that there are immune system activators called inflammasomes that contribute to harmful immune system responses. 

The team aimed to see how diet could affect immune system response to pathogens, like the flu virus. They found that the keto diet also works to block the formation of the inflammasomes.

In tests with mice, those that consumed the diet showed higher survival rate when infected with the influenza virus. Keto diet works better than high-carb diets in activating gamma delta T cells that produce mucus in the cell linings of the lung.

"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," one researcher said. 

Flu Season 2019

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported a growing number of people being affected by the flu this year across the U.S. The federal government and doctors have been launching campaigns to encourage the public to consider getting vaccinated to prevent the virus from spreading. 

A recent report by pharmacy chain Walgreens showed that Louisiana has the most number of flu infections to date. Nevada, Texas, Mississippi and Florida followed the list highly affected areas.

"October data show southern states are experiencing more widespread flu activity this year," Walgreens said in the report. "Index levels are higher in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma and Nevada."

avocado Avocados are known as one of the most nutrient-dense foods that could help manage weight. Pixabay