RESEARCHERS LOOKING INTO WHETHER KETO DIETS CAN TREAT COVID-19
But they warn it's too soon to ditch carbs to try to stop the virus.
As the rush to develop a Covid-19 vaccine continues, people are still looking for ways to protect themselves from the deadly coronavirus pandemic (you know, besides wearing a mask and practicing social distancing).
One new study points to a popular eating regimen as a possible way to reduce the severity of the virus’ symptoms — keto. Yup, the low-carb, high-fat eating regimen could be the key to guarding yourself from the pandemic.
In a review published in the journal Med, researchers found that a particular ketone body — or a molecule produced by the liver from fatty acids — known as beta-hydroxybutyrate acid (BHB) is key in preventing the development of Covid-19 symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath. Eating a keto diet helps elevate the production of BHB, the researchers point out.
Furthermore, elevated levels of blood ketones have been shown to help the body protect itself against hypoxia-related tissue damage — or damage to tissues of cells caused by respiratory illnesses.
To test this theory, researchers at John Hopkins University plan on testing the effects of a keto diet on a group of patients suffering from Covid-19. If successful, the diet should improve oxygen flow and reduce the amount of time patients are on ventilators.
“Understanding how BHB impacts innate immunity following infection is one of the key preclinical questions we hope researchers will be eager to tackle,” Brianna Stubbs, PhD, a Buck Institute researcher with expertise in ketone biology and lead author of the review, said in a release.
But don’t ditch the carbs just yet. “I want to be clear that there is no evidence that a ketogenic diet is protective in any way against COVID-19,” John Newman, MD, PhD, Buck Institute professor and practicing geriatrician, said in a release. “In fact there may be instances where BHB could promote viral replication of SARS-CoV2, the specific virus that causes the disease. But given the promise that BHB shows against many of the age-related risk factors for COVID-19 such as heart disease and diabetes we want to take advantage of this unique opportunity to bring geroscience to the fight against COVID-19.”