Home  /  All  /  Science  /  Therapeutics

Can the Ketogenic Diet Protect Against The Flu?

Written by
Reviewed By Dr. Ryan Lowery
  Published on November 18th, 2019
  Reading time: 2 minutes
  Last modified January 11th, 2023
ketogenic diet flu

Beyond weight loss, the ketogenic diet has been shown to have numerous therapeutic benefits. Everything from neurodegenerative diseases to psychiatric disorders have been researched. A new paper published out of Yale University explored a new topic: the flu. 

Background Information

The flu is a common infection caused by the influenza A virus (IAV). When an individual is infected with this virus, the immune response our body produces is heavily influenced by a variety of factors, including diet. This research team at Yale hypothesized that since a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet had been shown to promote immune cell response in the lungs, in previous studies, it may combat or improve symptoms of the flu.

Results of this Study

In this study, mice were fed a ketogenic diet for one week before being inoculated with the influenza virus. The effects of the viral infection were compared to a control group of mice that continued to consume a standard chow diet.   [1]

The ketogenic mice group had an increased survival rate and maintained a higher blood oxygen saturation level as compared to the standard chow group. The researchers concluded the ketogenic diet protected against the flu virus by activating immune cells that protect the lungs and epithelial cells within the airway, thus enhancing antiviral resistance. 

Therefore, KD-mediated immune-metabolic integration represents a viable avenue toward preventing or alleviating influenza disease.”

Mechanism of Action (In-depth Science Review) 

?? T cells are a subset of T cells that play a key role in the recognition of lipid antigens. While many details about these specific T-cells are still unknown, it is known that they may act as a bridge between the innate and adaptive immune responses. ?? T cells are unique in that they do not appear to require MHC presentation and the specific antigen that triggers their activation is widely unknown; although, some studies have shown MHC class 1b recognition.

After the research team found increased antiviral resistance in the ketogenic fed mice, they performed a transcriptome analysis of the influenza virus-infected lung tissue. While the ketogenic diet group did not show increased interferon count or interferon-stimulated genes, IPA revealed increased T cell pathway activation, indicated the immune protection was mediated through nonconventional mechanisms. 

The researchers investigated further and found that of the top regulated genes in the ketogenic diet mice, ?? T cells and 4 genes (Cxcr6, Blk, Cd163l1, and Ccr4) highly associated with ?? T cells were identified. Flow cytometry revealed no other cellular differences between the ketogenic and chow-fed mice, indicating the ?? T cells activation was largely responsible for the protective effects. This data suggests that following a ketogenic diet may improve or prevent influenza infection. 

Have You Noticed a Difference During Flu Season?

Do you get less sick when you’re on the ketogenic diet? Are all of your friends coming down with the flu while you stay healthy? Let us know in the comments below!

At ketogenic.com, we are committed to supporting, inspiring, and educating people on the benefits of living a ketogenic lifestyle. We do this by bringing together the top researchers, practitioners, and thought-leaders who provide resources, experience, and awareness associated around the Ketogenic diet. Utilizing the latest cutting-edge research along with practical experience, the team at ketogenic.com aims to foster awareness, understanding, and connectedness in helping others optimize their life on a ketogenic diet.



Emily L. Goldberg, Ryan D. Molony, Eriko Kudo, Sviatoslav Sidorov, Yong Kong, Vishwa Deep Dixit, Akiko Iwasaki. Ketogenic diet activates protective ?? T cell responses against influenza virus infection. Science Immunology 15 Nov 2019: Vol. 4, Issue 41, eaav2026. DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aav2026.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never miss out on exclusive content and limited deals.

As a Member, you get instant access to personalized meal plans, exclusive videos & articles, discounts, a 1 on 1 Coaching Session, and so much more. As a member, you join our mission of empowering 1,000,000 people to positively change their lives throughout the world. Get started today.


A Great Deal
$ 19
99 /month
  • 7-Day Free Trial
  • Cancel Anytime


3 Months Free
$ 179
  • 3 Months Free
  • Cancel Anytime


Membership for Life
$ 349
  • Lifetime Access
  • Limited Availability