Researchers found that mice fed with low-fat, low-carbohydrate diets were better able to fight the virus than those who fed high-carbohydrate foods.
The Yale University study suggests that the ketogenic diet, which includes meat, fish, poultry and non-starchy vegetables for humans, activates a subset of T cells in the lungs that were not previously associated with the immune system's response to influenza.
Researchers found that the cells improved mucus production from airway cells that can effectively catch the virus.
Co-author Akiko Iwasaki, Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, said: "This was a totally unexpected result."
Mice that had received a ketogenic diet for seven days prior to infection were protected from body weight loss and had improved survival relative to mice on a normal chow diet.
In addition, they were able to better maintain oxygen saturation in the blood, suggesting improved gas exchange compared to mice fed chow according to the report published in & # 39; Science Immunology & # 39 ;.
Animals were randomized to indicated diet groups for one week prior to infection and then monitored for clinical signs of disease and sacrificed to assess immune response.
Co-author Visha Deep Dixit, Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Comparative Medicine and Immunobiology, said: "This study shows that how the body burns fat to produce ketone bodies from the foods we eat can power the immune system to fight the flu infection."
Dr. Jenna Macciochi, lecturer in immunology, University of Sussex, said: "Although this study further adds to the growing scientific literature that dietary manipulation of the three macronutrients ̵
"Since 2016, it has been known that there may be a thread of scientific truth to the old word" feed a cold, starve a fever ", and this study provides support , opens the opportunity for ketodieths to treat not only the flu but other conditions where inflammation can cause security damage. "