We live in an environment adversely affected by evolving, bad, as well as good bacteria. Luckily, in such an increasingly evolving environment, a little thing called our immune system constantly adapts to protect us from harmful bacteria. Considered among the most complex systems in the body, the immune response is crucial for the survival of our bodies.
For some people, the immune system is less effective or compromised. One possible solution for these people to boost their immunity is to implement a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is well known for weight loss, but you may be surprised to find out that it’s also a great immunity booster.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Keto is typically a low carb, high-fat, adequate protein diet which invokes the liver to produce ketones for use as a form of energy. The body is remarkably adaptive to the type of food one consumes. By lowering the carbs, as in keto, the body is induced into a metabolic state known as the ketosis state.
Typically, under normal circumstances/diets, the body utilizes glycogen as a source of energy, and since fats are not needed, the body stores them. A high carb diet, therefore, causes the body to use glucose as the form of energy.
In contrast, ketosis is considered a natural process which helps the body survive when there is low food intake. A typical ketogenic diet has certain food groups which are allowed while others are disallowed.
You can determine the ideal foods by using a ketogenic macro calculator.
Keto aids in boosting the immune system through various ways:
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving the health of the gut
- Promoting consumption of healthy fats and vegetables
Inflammation is among the key actions that occur during a typical immune response as the body is responding to injury. It helps the body heal itself and protect itself from illness. During the healing process, the body launches a response by sending white blood cells to the affected area; which help fight pathogens. However, excessive inflammation that occurs in various diseases has the potential to cause adverse consequences for most individuals. One of the ideal strategies of reducing inflammation is adopting keto.
In comparison to glucose metabolism, ketosis is characterized by fewer reactive oxygen species and free radicals. Free radicals and reactive oxygen species are contributing factors to inflammation. Keto also evokes anti-inflammatory effects by producing adenosine. Therefore, for people with chronic conditions that cause pain, the diet plays a crucial role in alleviating inflammation. Under normal diet regimens, the presence of glucose in individuals with diabetes is associated with inflammation. Therefore, shifting from glucose as a source of energy to ketosis can lower the levels of inflammation.
One of the applications of keto in reducing inflammation is that it can be used to lower harmful brain inflammation after an individual experiences brain trauma or stroke. Additionally, the diet helps reduce pain associated with inflammation by raising pain thresholds and thus making the pain more manageable. Reduction of inflammation also causes reduction of pain.
Healing the Gut
Great health begins with a healthy gut. Owing to the limited presence of low carbs in keto, there are also low levels of sugar in the diet. Eliminating sugars from the diet has a myriad of benefits as far as health of the gut is concerned.
The health of the gut is compromised by components in various diets such as chemicals, sugar, antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, and pesticides. High levels of sugar in the diet lead to a proliferation of bad bacteria. The proliferation of bad bacteria has the potential to get out of control and thus overcome the good bacteria in the gut. Also, the high sugar diets tend to compromise immunity and its ability to respond to bacteria.
In addition to eliminating bad bacteria, keto leads to an increase in good bacteria in the gut. When on the keto diet it is a good idea to include prebiotic fiber which is an ideal source of food for probiotics. To maintain a healthy gut profile both components are required.
Also, the consumption of fats from sources such as oily fish, plant oils, and ghee means that the individual consumes higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids which lead to microbial diversity in the gut.
Another benefit of the diet is that it offers protection for the gut lining. A lot of substances move through the gastrointestinal system when individuals consume food. In a healthy gut, the gut lining is able to confine such substances in the digestive system until it is eventually removed from the body. If the barrier is compromised by certain factors, then components from the digestive system can begin to leak into the blood including toxins and bad bacteria.
Among the key foods associated with weakened gut, barriers include grains as well as beans. Grains typically contain gluten, an element known to trigger the body’s defense system to go into overdrive mode and to some point even lead to an attack the gut. The presence of gluten also causes the production of a protein that causes depreciation in the connections between the different cells in the intestines thus destroying the gut barrier. Since the keto diet is void of grains, individuals on such regimens have healthy guts.
The presence of good fats in the keto program also promotes the cells in the intestinal lining to release a type of protein that reduces inflammation in the gut and also promotes the growth of bacteria that strengthen tight junctions between cells of the gut barrier.
Promotes Consumption of Healthy Fats and Vegetables
The keto program includes fats as a core component of the diet routine. Contrary to what many individuals believe, saturated fats are essential in the body and keto advocates for such fats. Some of the examples of allowed sources of fats in keto include animal fats such as ghee, butter, and whole eggs. Plant-based fats that provide saturated fats in the diet include coconut butter, olive oil, and avocados. Saturated fats play a crucial role in the creation of vital hormones such as testosterone and cortisol. The fats also improve the ratios of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol in the blood.
Some of the essential fats which the body needs, and must come from the diet, are omega-3 and omega-6 fats. The keto diet encourages consumption of salmon, shellfish, tuna, and trout. Such foods provide adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential in the reduction of inflammation. Further, the recommended vegetables in keto are typically high in nutrients and low in carbs. Most of the vegetables fitting this description include dark leafy greens.
Also, the diet recommends one to consume cruciferous vegetables and vegetables grown above ground such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, or Brussel sprouts. Greens, as well as nutrient dense low carb vegetables, contain ample amounts of vitamins A, C, and K which are crucial in boosting immunity. Vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower contain sulforaphane, a chemical that helps boost immunity and also fights free radicals.
Clearly, the ketogenic diet is highly effective in restoring a balance in the human body. The diet is beneficial in boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, and restoration of the gut lining. Additionally, the diet confers the benefits of consuming vegetables.
In addition to avoiding the negative consequences associated with high carbs in typical diets, keto restores balance in key functions in the body. The ideal way to begin the ketogenic diet is to adhere to a meal plan. Meal plans enhance compliance and also help one include all the necessary nutrients.
About the Author:
Janine Einhellig is a writer for KetoDomain.com, a website focused on helping people achieve success on the ketogenic diet through information, meal plans and coaching.