Lowering carbohydrate intake may help in the fight against inflammation and can be a successful trick to reducing symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, asthma, migraines.
Not only is the ketogenic diet a great weight loss tool, but it can also be great for your body as it’s anti-inflammatory.
Since the keto diet is essentially a low-carb, high-fat diet, you’re eliminating foods that may be causing your body inflammation when you reduce carbohydrates. (1)
Read on to learn more about inflammation, the effects of inflammation when following the ketogenic diet, foods you should and shouldn’t be eating, and more.
Inflammation is a natural, protective response of your body to harmful stimuli, such as germs or damaged cells. It is characterized by swelling and pain in the affected area.
It’s like how your body tries to fight off infection with fever or redness around a wound.
When your body feels it’s being threatened, white blood cells rush to the area where it thinks it is bacteria, a virus, or anything foreign.
While this natural response is meant to keep us safe and healthy, when there’s too much inflammation in the body, it can cause a host of issues such as:
- Joint, muscle pain, and stiffness
- Swelling or redness
- & more
Many studies show the association between inflammation and disease like dementia, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. (2)
When taking a look into inflammation, it’s important to understand NLRP3 inflammasomes.
NLRP3 has long been studied around inflammation and its relation to many autoimmune diseases like lupus, arthritis, systemic sclerosis, and bowel disease. (3)
NLRP3 inflammasomes, a group of cells within the body’s innate immune system, trigger an inflammatory response in the body.
NLRP3s play a big role in helping us fight off different pathogens that can make us sick that we haven’t been exposed to before.
They are basically our bodies’ front line that protects us from anything that can cause harm to our bodies.
These cells initiate the inflammatory response in the body by releasing a protein called IL-1b, an inflammatory activator.
However, if these cells are blocked from responding to inflammation triggers, the inflammatory response is reduced.
The ketogenic diet helps reduce inflammation by downregulating NLRP3 inflammasomes, thus reducing the activation of an inflammatory response.
Fatty acids and antioxidants from omega 6 and 3, respectively, effectively protect the body from inflammation.
The ketogenic diet is also low in LPS-stimulated IL-1beta and IL-18 release, both of which are thought to be critical in the development of chronic inflammation in the body (4)
Does Keto Really Help With Inflammation?
The ketogenic diet helps with inflammation in our bodies due to the anti-inflammatory food that’s high in healthy fat.
You won’t see foods in the diet that are known to cause inflammation, either, as it’s restrictive of carbohydrates.
Anti Inflammatory Diet
There are foods that can aggravate and cause inflammation to swell up in our bodies.
The biggest culprits for this are sugar and processed food.
A diet that’s anti-inflammatory in nature will have foods that are high in antioxidants or omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Anti Inflammatory Foods To Eat On Keto
A diet that is low in inflammatory food should:
Here are foods shown to help fight inflammation:
- Oils like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil
- Greens like spinach, chard, broccoli, and kale
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and herring
Inflammatory Foods To Stay Away From
If you’re trying to fight off inflammation, it’s best to stay away from the following:
- Processed sugar and grains (rice, wheat, barley)
- Vegetables that contain starch like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and yams
- Any fruit high in fructose like bananas, oranges, and pineapple
- Oils like corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil.
- Foods that are highly processed.
Ketosis And Inflammation
When you start a ketogenic diet, by restricting your carbohydrate intake it forces your body to find a new fuel source.
The fuel source comes from ketone bodies which form in the blood as a result of eating a high-fat diet. Ketones are a byproduct of fat oxidation, and they are an alternative energy source when glucose is not available.
A specific ketone, beta-hydroxybutyrate, has been associated with a reduced inflammatory response. (7)
Inflammation and stress are two big components for dementia and similar neurodegenerative diseases. Studies are now showing that when ketones are present in the body, it can reduce neuroinflammation. (8)
Ketosis has also been shown to activate the AMPK pathway. AMPK stands for adenosine monophosphate kinase.
The AMPK pathway helps the body metabolize fat and regulates a cell’s response to insulin and glucose levels. It’s a protein inside cells that get activated when our bodies are under stress, which can cause inflammation.
When cells are under stress, AMPK switches on, which switches off the inflammation process.
Then, when we create a “metabolic burn,” as we metabolize fat in our bodies, this also turns on AMPK.
AMPK also stimulates the production of mitochondria, which is the energy powerhouse in our cells. A ketogenic diet leads to an excess of mitochondrial production and reduces inflammation as a natural side-effect.
The ketogenic diet has been shown to be very beneficial in lowering inflammation in the body.
The anti-inflammatory effects of keto affect the body on all different levels, from preventing chronic pain to preventing or reducing symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
While the benefits of ketosis can be life-changing for those with severe illnesses or diseases, it’s always best to check with your doctor to see if a low-carb diet is right for your circumstances.
Reducing the number of carbohydrates you consume and increasing healthy fat is a major step in reducing the amount of inflammation your body reacts to from unhealthy food.