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A keto or vegan diet kick starts your immune system

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Coming down with too many colds?  Switching to a vegan or keto diet can quickly boost your immune system, a new study has found.

Major changes in immune responses happen after eating either diet for just two weeks, say researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US.

The diets triggered different immune responses.  The vegan diet bolstered innate immunity—the immune system’s first line of defence against pathogens in general—while the low-carb keto diet enhanced adaptive immunity, which is specific to a particular pathogen, such as a virus.  Metabolic improvements in the microbiome, the billions of bacteria living in the gut, were also seen by the researchers.

The researchers were surprised by the speed the immune system improved when the 20 participants adopted one of the diets for two weeks and then switched to the other diet for a further two weeks.

The vegan diet used for the study comprised around 10 percent fat and 75 carbohydrates, while the keto was made up of 76 percent fat and 10 percent carbs.

The researchers were able to see the change in immune responses as the participants switched diets.  The vegan diet improved the pathways that are linked to the innate immune system, including antiviral responses.  It also promoted more red blood cells.  The keto diet increased biochemical and cellular processes, and also produced more proteins in blood plasma.  

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Nature Medicine, 2024; doi: 10.1038/s41591-023-02761-2
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