Could keto diet help in lowering Covid-19 infection or risk?

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 08, 2020

Ketogenic diet helps lower blood pressure via increased sodium losses through urine in combination with ketonuria

A new study speculated that ketogenic diet may help in mitigating Covid-19 infection and the risk of contracting the virus.

The study, published in the journal of Translational Medicine, stated that with the keto diet’s track history of effectual reduction of fat mass, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects, and consequent improvement of cardiovascular health, can be effective in the mitigation of Covid-19.

What is a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is an extremely low carb, high-fat diet. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat.

High-risk state of excessive fat mass

Earlier studies have shown that Covid-19 is lethal for obese and overweight people. The infection also exacerbates in people who have an overall poor metabolic profile.

This relationship could be because of the immune and metabolic effects, and the low-grade inflammation induced by obesity. Fat cells also express ACE at high levels, receptor cells to which SARS-CoV-2 clings on to spread, which could further lead to cytokine cascade to dangerous or dysregulated levels.

The researchers stated in their study that dietary interventions are a key factor in reducing this risk, most importantly by restricting junk food consumption and substituting them with high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Dysregulated inflammation also plays a major role in severe Covid-19, with prolonged inflammation.

Metabolic correction

Keto diet also treats metabolic (dysfunction) associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD), with a healthy reduction in the liver fat content and insulin resistance in the liver within a week of treatment.

They also prevent muscle cell breakdown and reduce inflammation, in addition to immunomodulatory effects, thus exhibiting a broad spectrum of action in different tissues.

Ketone bodies inhibit inflammasome activation in response to viral infections, and could thus prevent the hyperinflammatory reaction associated with the cytokine storm in severe and critical Covid-19, the researchers wrote.

Implications of a keto diet

The researchers mentioned that a ketogenic diet helps lower blood pressure via increased sodium losses through urine in combination with ketonuria. Physical exercise would further increase the favorable effects of such a diet.

The researchers noted that attention should be paid to setting up properly customised keto diets to produce a permanent lifestyle modification in obese patients, reducing multiple risk factors for severe Covid-19 through multiple mechanisms.

A study comparing severe Covid-19 incidence among obese patients on a KD versus those on an ordinary diet may throw more light on the validity of this hypothesis, the researchers concluded.

Published on December 08, 2020

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