New research supports dieting, fasting, high intensity exercise and a ketogenic diet as effective means to reduce inflammation. Here’s how.
Researchers at Yale School of Medicine discovered that a compound produced by the body when dieting or fasting can block a part of the immune system involved in several inflammatory disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. This discovery shows great promise in managing these and similar disorders, which have dominated the mortality statistics in the U.S. for the past several decades now.
When you subject your body to a low calorie diet or practice fasting, it forces your body to burn its body fat stores. When your body metabolizes fat for its energy needs more than it does carbohydrates, ketone bodies are generated as a by-product. In high amounts, ketones are dangerous, but as long as your blood glucose levels are normal and you are losing fat weight, it is not a problem. A ketogenic diet, which is sometimes prescribed for diabetics and those with epilepsy can also generate ketones in your body.
The ketone compound identified in the study is called β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). It suppresses activation of a special protein called the NLRP3 inflammasome. NLRP3 is what drives inflammation in many types of chronic, inflammatory disease.
BHB is produced by the body in response to fasting, high-intensity exercise, caloric restriction, or consumption of the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet. According to Vishwa Deep Dixit, professor in the Section of Comparative Medicine at Yale School of Medicine it is well known that fasting and calorie restriction reduce inflammation in the body, but it was unclear how immune cells adapt to reduced availability of glucose and how they respond to metabolites produced from fat oxidation. This was the impetus of the study.
The research team introduced BHB to mice populations with inflammatory diseases caused by NLP3. They found that this reduced inflammation, and that inflammation was also reduced when the mice were given a ketogenic diet, which elevates the levels of BHB in the bloodstream.
The study’s findings suggest that endogenous metabolites like BHB that are produced during low-carb dieting, fasting, or high-intensity exercise can lower the NLRP3 inflammasome, and therefore have an inhibitory effect on the inflammatory response.
So if you suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis, Chron’s, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, atherosclerosis, Alzheimers and perhaps fibromyalgia, it is definitely worth trying to increase your BHB levels by fasting, eating a low-calorie diet, doing high intensity exercises (if that’s an option to you) and adding more fat to your diet like cream, butter, nuts, animal fat from pastured animals and raw egg yolks (but don’t forget your vegetables).
For details on this important study, visit Nature Medicine.