Yale researchers studying mice have found that a ketogenic diet can produce health benefits in the short term, however produce negative effects after approximately a week. Their results do offer early indications that this diet could over limited time periods improve human health by lowering inflammation and the risk of diabetes.
A ketogenic diet consists of 70% – 80% of calories from fat, 10% – 20% from protein and 5% – 10% from carbohydrates. This diet has become increasingly popular and has been touted as a weight loss regimen. The research currently conducted on mice may be an important first step toward the possibility of clinical trials in humans.
The study has shown that the positive and negative effects of the keto diet both relate to immune cells known as gamma delta T-cells which are tissue protective cells that help lower inflammation and diabetes risk.
The keto diet tricks the body into burning fat. As the body’s glucose level becomes reduced due to the diet’s very lower carbohydrate content, the body will act as if it is in a state of starvation, although it isn’t. The body then begins to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. This process yields chemicals called ketone bodies as an alternative source of fuel. As the body burns ketone bodies, the tissue protective gamma delta T-cells will expand throughout the body.
This process reduces inflammation and diabetes risk and improves the body’s metabolism. After a week on this diet, mice show a reduction in inflammation and blood sugar levels.
However, when the body is in this starving but not really starving mode, storage of fat is also happening simultaneously with the breakdown of fat. As the mice continued to eat this high fat/low carb diet beyond one week, they consume more fat than their body can burn and therefore develop diabetes and obesity. They lose the protective gamma delta T-cells in their fat.
Long term clinical studies are still necessary in humans to validate the anecdotal claims of the health benefits of a keto diet. Before this type of diet can be prescribed, large clinical trials in controlled conditions is necessary to fully understand the mechanism behind any metabolic and immunological benefits or any potential harm to people who are pre-diabetic and overweight.
Both Type 2 Diabetes and obesity are lifestyle diseases. Diet allows people in one way to be in control.
The findings highlight the interplay between the immune system and metabolism and how it coordinates the maintenance of healthy tissue function.
To view the original scientific study click below