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NEWS

Keto diet may be best in small doses

Two women eating keto diet

A recent animal study suggests a ketogenic diet may work best used short term, with the benefits of lowered type 2 diabetes risk and inflammation reversing over time.

The Yale study, published in the journal Nature Metabolism, observed the effects of the very low-carb, very high-fat keto diet on mice and found, after a week, they had reduced blood sugar levels and inflammation.

These reductions are thought to be associated with immune cells, called gamma delta T-cells, expanding throughout the body as a result of ketosis.

Ketosis is when the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrate, its usual energy source. This is brought on by strictly reducing the amount of carbohydrate consumed and replacing that with high-fat foods instead.

But, the researchers found, mice who continued on the keto diet beyond a week started to consume more fat than they could burn, and the benefits were reversed, with diabetes and obesity risk increasing and the protective gamma delta T-cells depleting.

Because the study was done on animals, further investigation is needed to see if the results can be replicated in a human trial.

In a press release, Yale Comparative Medicine and Immunobiology professor Vishwa Deep Dixit says: “Before such a diet can be prescribed, a large clinical trial in controlled conditions is necessary to understand the mechanism behind metabolic and immunological benefits or any potential harm to individuals who are overweight and pre-diabetic.”

If further investigation finds the keto diet is useful in small doses, this is good news, according to Professor Dixit.

“Who wants to be on a diet forever?”

Healthy Food Guide advice is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. Based on the body of scientific evidence, so far, we recommend following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern that includes mostly vegetables, fruit and legumes, wholegrain bread and cereals, moderate amounts of fish, dairy and healthy fats, such olive oil, and small portions of meat.

If you do try the keto diet, it can be very difficult to get enough essential fibre, so it’s important to make this a focus by eating plenty of low-carb vegetables, nuts and seeds.

A healthy gut needs plenty of fibre but thrives on variety as well.

First published: Feb 2020

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