I first heard of the ketogenic diet after reading Dr. Annette Bosworth's book "Any Way You Can" in 2018. It's basically a first hand account of a physician's struggle to aid in her mom's cancer journey as she discovered and learned all about how to utilize the ketogenic diet to save her mom's life. Dr. Bosworth specialized in internal medicine and had little knowledge from her medical training when it came to diet and nutrition and had never even heard of the ketogenic diet! One of her patients put her on the path to ketones and she dove in to study the ketogenic diet as thoroughly as possible to use them to help her own mother survive and thrive. I highly recommend this book to beginners who are looking at starting their own journey on ketogenic diet eating - it's a quick read with lots of helpful tips to get started. Dr. Bosworth's website bozmd.com is a great resource to answer all your questions about how to "do" the ketogenic diet!
So I decided to try the Ketogenic Diet immediately after finishing her book and sought out numerous other resources online and in books to get started. I found it very simple to understand and pretty easy to stick to early on because I LOVE BACON AND BUTTER! The ketogenic diet does sometimes get a little difficult and I do occasionally fall off the wagon for short periods, but I have been eating a ketogenic diet for nearly 4 years now and will not go back. Here are just some of the health benefits I have personally experienced:
*Significant weight loss
*Lowered blood glucose levels (was considered pre-diabetic prior to starting)
*Decreased inflammation in all joints
*Increased energy and stamina
*Mental clarity and alertness
*Improved vision (measurably in my lens prescriptions)
*Healthy teeth and gums
*Strong hair and nails
Probably the main improvement I saw from eating a ketogenic diet was the decrease in inflammation. Most people don't understand that excess inflammation causes (or exacerbates) so many of today's chronic illnesses. After a couple of months being keto adapted, I felt like a kid again (and I'm almost 56 years old!) I recommend the ketogenic diet to everyone I know and help them get started and offer support along the way. Here's a shot of some ketogenic diet meal prepping from early on:
Now the reason I'm blogging today about the Ketogenic Diet is that I recently read over a study entitled Ketone Bodies Improve Human CD8+ Cytotoxic T-Cell Immune Response During COVID-19 Infection. That's right - when our bodies produce ketones, they fuel the mitochondria of cells and protect the membranes from cytokine attacks. This makes starting a ketogenic diet even more appealing as the health and wellness benefits become more and more widely published.
Here is an excerpt from the study discussing the benefits of ketones on Covid-19 infected people:
We have recently reported a strong positive impact of a Ketogenic Diet (KD) on human T-cell immune capacity in healthy volunteers (8). In the current study, we found the same pattern of effects in disease: The attenuated CD8+ T-cell functions of severely diseased COVID-19 patients were significantly empowered. Again, this phenomenon was based on a higher respiratory capacity -enabling superior energy production- and increased mitochondrial ROS which serve as T-cell second messenger. It is conceivable that the observed effects of ketone bodies represent evolutionary conserved mechanisms for stabilizing human immunity in health and disease.
Functional exhaustion of T-cells is known to be linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. Thus, we hypothesized that mitochondrial empowerment through BHB could improve T-cell function during COVID-19. We provide evidence for an increased energetic capacity of BHB+CD8+ T-cells during COVID-19. T cells are capable of using BHB via Krebs cycle oxidation, which is known to fuel OXPHOS with superior efficacy (16, 17). Therefore, augmented cellular energy supply through metabolization of BHB could enable an enhanced immune response of CD8+ T-cells.
Due to their multidimensional beneficial immunometabolic effects, ketone bodies have been proposed as a countermeasure against viral infections (26). To date, no study investigated the impact of BHB on human viral infections. In mice, BHB has already shown to induce a protective immune response against influenza virus infection (27). Similarly, in beta coronavirus-infected mice, a Ketogenic Diet (KD) improved γδ T-cell immunity and dampened inflammation (28). The potential benefit of a Ketogenic Diet (KD) also expands to other immune cell types. Macrophages contribute to detrimental immune responses to COVID-19, which could be ameliorated through redirection of M1 to M2 phenotype via metabolic rewiring on a Ketogenic Diet (29). Beyond immunological effects, a Ketogenic Diet (KD) has been proposed as a metabolic therapy against COVID-19 through restoration of systemic energy metabolism (30). Of note, Ketogenic Diet (KD) in vivo might evoke additional positive effects: carbohydrate restriction results in diminished levels of glucose and insulin, thus breaking the cycle of glucose-insulin-dependent inflammation and immunosuppression (31–36). This could be of exceptional importance, since metabolic comorbidities have a devastating impact on COVID-19 patients (37–40).
Consequently, a retrospective data analysis of COVID-19 patients on a Ketogenic DIet (KD) revealed correlations to a reduced mortality (41). Prospective randomized clinical trials will now have to evaluate the precise impact of BHB on human metabolism in vivo during COVID-19.
This is a long time coming as there are quite a few doctors out there that have educated themselves on how ketones operate in the body and how lowering blood glucose through a ketogenic diet can help so many people with common ailments as well as severe chronic disease! It's amazing how health can be so drastically improved by simply changing the way we eat!
Now that brings me to my plug for adding our Pine Needle Tea to the equation:-) I have since discovered the dramatic health benefits of Intermittent Fasting (IF) and have to say that my beverage of choice while on a Ketogenic Diet (KD) and during Intermittent Fasting (IF) is Pine Needle Tea! It is nutrient dense, yet has almost zero calories and is naturally caffeine free. It has also been studied for it's ability to prevent and fight off viruses, colds and flus (see our page on the health benefits). It's an excellent source of shikimic acid, wild suramin and vitamin C as well as a host of other beneficial compounds. I'm not great at fasting, but I do frequently enjoy the benefits from fasting just 24 hours at a time. This is just enough to experience a short period of autophagy (where your cells clean up the garbage in your system and strengthen your immunity). I sip on Pine Needle Tea during the 24 hours I am fasting from food/caloric intake and it keeps the cravings down.
If you want to know more about the ketogenic diet or how to incorporate our pine needle tea into a healthy lifestyle, google them or look at several of my other blog posts that go into more detail about the benefits of drinking Pine Needle Tea and how it can help dramatically improve your immune system. Thanks for stopping by!