Can Ketogenic Diet Prevent Getting Sick from Coronavirus?

In December of 2019, the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 started an epidemic.  Now inevitably spreading worldwide, to date it has taken over 3,500 lives and infected over 100,000 people in nearly 100 countries.  

It has sent a level of panic or at the very least a high alert of concern about the contraction and spread of the virus causing the shut down of government building, schools, businesses,  airports, and cancellations of major events worldwide that would draw large groups of people together.

What is Coronavirus or COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect and spread between people. However, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.  COVID-19 is suspected to have started in bats and jumped to people in Wuhan China. A pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan, was first reported to the World Health Organization Country Office in China on December 31st, 2019.

Although not as deadly as the influenza virus that causes the more commonly known flu, it too poses a high risk of infection.  Its symptoms are similar to the flu and include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. 

How to Protect Yourself From COVID19

Besides the practical steps of washing your hands, not touching your faces, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough and disinfecting hard surfaces you come in contact with on a regular basis like doorknobs and counters, you should also be arming your immune system to be your first line of defense in case you come in contact with the virus.  

Each one of us has a different kind of immune system and our daily activity determines its strength. We know that movement, stress, and lifestyle choices all impact our immune system.  For example, people who exercise have much stronger immunity than those who do not.   We also know, now more than ever, that what we eat matters in deciding how good our immune system is. Strengthening the immune system to combat specific illnesses is more than taking a few extra vitamin C supplements and adding extra fruits and vegetables. We can choose combinations of foods, like those eaten on a ketogenic diet to specifically ward off viruses. 

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is a high fat (70%), moderate protein (20%), low carb (10%) diet that changes the sources of energy metabolism from glucose (Carbohydrates) to ketones (A by-product of converting fat into energy).  Meals tend to consist of a variety of animal proteins such as meat, fish, poultry, dietary fats like olive oil, ghee, avocado oil, butter, and coconut oil and non-starchy carbohydrates such as dark leafy greens, onions, peppers, avocado, tomatoes, zucchini, and broccoli.   

What is not consumed on the keto diet is just as important as the foods you consume.  A ketogenic diet removes bread, pasta, rice, grains, potatoes, fruit, and any high carbohydrate foods, initially keeping daily carbohydrate intake under 20 grams per day.  In the absence of carbohydrates in your diet, the body begins to convert fat, both consumed and body fat into ketones which are used for energy.  

How might Ketogenic Diet Help Protect You?

After taking all precautions if you are exposed to COVID-19 you want your body to be able to fight off the virus and protect you from getting sick.  Research studies show that the ketogenic diet offers some essential protections against viruses. A Yale University study published in November of 2019 in the journal Science Immunology found mice fed a ketogenic diet were better able to combat the flu virus than mice fed a high carbohydrate diet.   

The team found the ketogenic diet, or keto for short, triggered the release of gamma delta T cells, immune system cells that produce mucus in the cell linings of the lung and trapped the virus before it became worse — while the high-carbohydrate diet did not.

Specifically, it activates a subset of T-cells in the lungs not previously associated with the immune system’s response to influenza, enhancing mucus production from airway cells that can effectively trap the virus, the researchers report.  

“This study shows that the way the body burns fat to produce ketone bodies from the food we eat can fuel the immune system to fight flu infection,” said co-senior author Visha Deep Dixit, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Comparative Medicine and of Immunobiology.

The symptoms of the COVID19  virus mainly affect the respiratory system much like influenza. Activating an immune response in which that body can effectively combat and trap respiratory viruses could be an effective defense for preventing severe illness or even death.

When initially starting a ketogenic diet it may take 1 to 3 weeks to get into the state of ketosis which means if using a ketogenic diet as a method of prevention from getting sick you should start well before you are potentially exposed to any virus.

Like the flu, coming in contact with the COVID-19 virus doesn’t mean certain doom.  Once you come in contact with a virus your immune system’s job is to protect you. That is the mark of health.  Not just the absence of disease but also the strength in which our body can protect us from toxins and infections we come in contact with on a daily basis.

If you are interested in learning more about the history, science and implementation of ketogenic diet you can get my FREE 3 Part Video Keto Class at

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