AUSTIN (KXAN) – Fans of the ketogenic diet have a new reason to rejoice. New research published this month in the science journal Science Immunology shows that the diet can help prevent the flu.
Researchers out of Yale University changed the diets of lab mice and discovered the keto diet led to increased mucus production in the lungs. Mucus is very good at trapping viruses before they can infect you. The more mucus you produce, the less likely you are to get sick.
What is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet is all about low carbs and high fat consumption. The diet contains high amounts of meat, fish, nuts and vegetables; while at the same time reducing the consumption of wheat, fruits, sugar and alcohol.
The reduction in carbohydrates puts your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. While in this state, your body uses fat for energy instead of carbs. The diet is effective for losing weight but has some downsides. Fiber intake is reduced, meaning going to the bathroom can be difficult, and nutrient deficiencies can occur if the diet isn’t properly maintained.
What about Vitamin C? Doesn’t it prevent the flu?
Apologies to vitamin C lovers out there, but research has shown time and again that vitamin C doesn’t do that much to prevent illness. According to research published by Harvard Medical School, vitamin C is only “marginally beneficial” when it comes to the common cold.
Vitamin C has only been shown to be effective for people undergoing severe physical stress, such as marathon runners. The National Institutes of Health says that vitamin C can slightly reduce the length of cold and flu symptoms, but only slightly. If you start taking vitamin C after you get sick, the research shows it doesn’t help at all.
Food and the flu
Your diet is a major component to how your body deals with an infection like the flu. If you don’t want to completely change what you eat, there are other options. Ginger can help reduce joint pain and nausea. For instance, whole garlic is excellent for digestion and the immune system. If you’re sick, you should avoid carbs and sugar.
Finally, anything high in protein is fantastic. Protein can help enhance the immune system and helps repair cells. Look for red meat, beans, and of course, the ultimate classic sick day food, a bowl of chicken soup.