While ketogenic diet was one of the most talked-about diets of the decade, several health experts have often challenged its sustainability and overall health benefits. According to a latest study, ketogenic diet may be associated with health benefits for a short term, but it may do more harm than good after about a week, said researchers. The study was published in the journal Nature Metabolism.
In ketogenic diet, one is supposed to cut down on carbs drastically. One is supposed to rely on fats for energy.
According to the positive and negative effects of the diet both relate to immune cells called gamma delta T-cells, tissue-protective cells that lower diabetes risk and inflammation.
"Our findings highlight the interplay between metabolism and the immune system, and how it coordinates maintenance of healthy tissue function," said study researcher Emily Goldberg from Yale University in the US, who discovered that the keto diet expands gamma-delta T-cells in mice.
What happens in a keto diet is that your body starts burning fat for energy since your body's glucose levels are reduced after you start cutting back on carbs. In other words, the body acts as if it is in a starvation state -- although it is not -- and begins burning fats in place of carbohydrates. This way you burn fat faster and lose weight.
"This process in turn yields chemicals called ketone bodies as an alternative source of fuel. When the body burns ketone bodies, tissue-protective gamma delta T-cells expand throughout the body," said Indian-origin researcher and study lead author Vishwa Deep Dixit.
This helps reduce the risk of diabetes and inflammation, said researchers.
The findings revealed that after a week on the keto diet, mice show a reduction in blood sugar levels and inflammation.
However, when the body is in this "starving-not-starving" mode, fat storage is also happening simultaneously with fat breakdown, researchers revealed. And if mice continue to consume high-fat, low-carb diet beyond one week they actually end up eating more fat than they can burn, these paving way for diabetes and obesity.
"They lose the protective gamma delta T-cells in the fat, long-term clinical studies in humans are still necessary to validate the anecdotal claims of keto's health benefits," Dixit said.
"Obesity and type 2 diabetes are lifestyle diseases, diet allows people a way to be in control," he added.
The diet may bring health benefits over limited time periods but people need to be very careful while adopting this diet. Expert consultation is imperative, the study suggested.
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