The coronavirus outbreak started in late 2019 and has now developed into a global pandemic. All data on the virus is preliminary, however, researchers are rapidly learning more about this worldwide problem. The situation of the virus has shifted dramatically and as a result many people are facing profound changes to their daily lives. During this time of uncertainty keeping the mind active and healthy is crucial, but with so much misleading information out there, what is the best diet to follow to ensure the body can fight off infections?
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According to Dr Grace Farhat, a lecturer in food science and nutrition at Liverpool Hope University, following the keto diet will not protect you against coronavirus despite claims.
This comes after a surge of posts on social media claimed this diet could potentially ward off Covid-19.
Dr Farhat agrees the keto diet will not protect you against coronavirus and explains why.
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The idea behind the keto diet is that by reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat, the body is put into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
During ketosis, the body uses fat reserves, rather than carbohydrates, as an energy source and this helps the body shed fat.
The keto diet typically limits carbs to 20-50 grams per day.
The keto diet has gained in popularity over the years but leading health experts rubbish rumours this diet can protect against coronavirus.
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What the experts say
Dr Farhat said there are certain claims being made that adopting a keto diet could help to boost your immune system and therefore stop you being infected with coronavirus.
But added: “I can say with confidence that there is no scientific evidence to show that ketosis can help ward off viruses, particularly coronavirus in humans.
“As ever, you should always be discerning about any medical claims made on social media.”
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A study by scientists at Yale School of Medicine suggested that a ketogenic diet might provide a degree of protection from the flu.
Lead author Akiko Iwasaki found ketosis in mice boosted certain immune cells and the protection of protective mucus in the lungs.
The study noted: “The keto diet may represent a viable avenue toward preventing or alleviating influenza disease.”
However, Dr Grace says there’s a big difference between mice and humans and she’d be concerned about the large numbers of people jumping on the keto bandwagon just because of this.
Dr Farhat added: “This is a study on mice and although it shows promising results, unless we prove in humans, we can’t make any bold claims about the way the diet might affect us.”
Why the keto diet won’t protect you against the deadly virus
Ketosis produces acidic substances called ketones and have too much ketones in the bloodstream can damage the liver and kidneys.
“The keto diet can also overload the kidneys due to an excess of protein and there’s also the risk of liver problems,” said Dr Farhat.
“What’s important is that a keto diet deprives the body of carbohydrates, which is needed for daily energy.”
To stay healthy during self-isolation and to protect the body, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is key along with staying hydrated.
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