The keto diet focuses the immune system on the flu virus
If you want to reduce the chance that you will be struck by a flu virus, reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet. According to an animal study from the University of Yale, a low-carbohydrate diet activates a particular type of immune cell that helps keep flu viruses out.
The researchers exposed mice to the A/PR8-IAV flu virus. This is an influenza A virus, which is fatal to mice if the number of viruses is large enough. However, the researchers used a mouse variant with the Mx1 gene, which provides some protection against A/PR8-IAV.
The researchers divided their mice into 2 groups. One group received standard chow, which mainly consisted of carbohydrates. [Chow] A control group received food with hardly any carbohydrates. [KD] The energy mainly came from fat.
After 4 days, all mice in the Chow group were dead. One week after exposure, half of the mice were still alive in the KD group.
The researchers repeated the experiment with mice without the Mx1 gene, and saw that the protective effect of the keto diet was considerably lower in these animals.
Mx-1 is needed for the functioning of gamma-delta-T cells, a type of immune cells about which we do not yet know much. Gamma-delta-T cells are somewhere in between the learning and the innate immune system.
Oncologists in particular study gamma-delta-T cells after fundamental research has shown that the chances for cancer patients are greater as more gamma-delta-T cells have invaded their tumors to kill cancer cells. [Front Immunol. 2018 Jun 8;9:1305.]
The researchers found the same gamma-delta T cells in the lungs of the mice exposed to the virus. They found them mainly in the lungs of mice that had been given low-carbohydrate feed.
Sci Immunol. 2019 Nov 15;4(41). pii: eaav2026. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aav2026.
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