A new study shows that the health benefits of keto diet could help manage asthma. The very low-carb, high-fat diet lowers the inflammation of the respiratory tract, which may then help reduce the prevalence of the respiratory condition.
Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany explained that asthma attacks occur due to severe inflammation of the bronchi and increased mucus production. Their study shows that increased consumption of fats on keto diet could help prevent these changes.
The eating plan helps reduce inflammation by improving the functions of Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILC) in the immune system. These cells play an important role in protecting the lungs by repairing damaged mucous membranes.
ILC works with cytokines that stimulate division of the mucosal cells and promote mucus production. The two cells help the body speed up the process to fix damage caused by pathogens or harmful substances.
However, ILC and cytokines can also contribute to the occurrence of asthma. In people with the lung condition, the inflammatory reaction caused by the cells is “much stronger and longer than normal,” according to Christoph Wilhelm, a professor at Bonn’s Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology.
ILC rapidly multiplies and releases large amounts of cytokines that could lead to higher inflammation and problems with breathing. Researchers said reducing or slowing down the division of the cells may help prevent asthma.
They found that eating more fats but with less carbs and protein on keto diet could help manage ILC activities. Researchers tested the effects of the eating plan on asthmatic mice.
The study, published in the journal Immunity, shows switching to fats as an alternative energy source for cells led to changes in cell metabolism. Researchers said the changes occurred because of shortage of fatty acids and glucose deficiency.
The high-fat approach then helped reduce the division activity of ILCs and boost its functions that protect the lungs.
“Normally, contact with allergens increases the number of ILCs in the bronchi fourfold,” Wilhelm said in a statement. “In our experimental animals, however, it remained almost unchanged. Both mucus production and other asthma symptoms decreased accordingly.”
The researchers hope to continue the study to see how the keto diet would help prevent asthma attacks in people.
“We are therefore trying to determine which components of the dietary change are responsible for the effect,” Wilhelm said. “Maybe this will open the door to the development of new drugs.”
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