COVID-19 and The Keto Diet
Who is Dr. Boz?
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an internal medicine physician of 20 plus years, who learned first-hand the many benefits of the Keto Diet. In 2015, my keto-research all but rescued my mother, Grandma Rose. Grandma Rose had suffered 10 years with cancer of her white blood cells and could have easily succumbed without a miracle. Her miracle showed up in a ketone body.
Since Grandma Rose’s recovery, I’ve devoted my efforts to educate others on the benefits of maintaining a Keto Lifestyle. My YouTube channel and book, Anyway You Can, the story of Grandma Rose, offer a wealth of hope, personal insight, and information.
If you’ve been on the fence, or have felt iffy about going Keto, you’re going to see in this article why I’ve committed my medical career to educate others about the low-carb lifestyle. In the last week of March, I flew my family to Hawaii to visit my oldest son, Prescott. His freshman year at college offered spring break the same time the others had days off from school. We planned for the week in the sun away from the snow of South Dakota. Easter marks the beginning of our fourth week locked inside the state of Hawaii with new adventures of homeschooling four teenagers from a flat on the Northshore of Hawaii. In this article you’ll read why I had the faith to fly my family to Hawaii the week before the country shut down …. and why we are staying put until it is safe to travel.
Read about the benefits of keto-adapted white blood cells in the fight against this serious viral pandemic.
Viruses: Fact vs. Fiction
First, let’s dispel some COVID-19 myths: COVID-19 is a virus. As such, gargling with salt water, and breathing the steam from a hot sauna will not cure the infection! Viruses exist under a certain set of rules. Like bacteria, that can survive on a multitude of surfaces – but only for a short time. Unlike mold spores, viruses cannot deactivate and reactivate after long periods of time. Viruses need other cells to infect in order to replicate. If that host-cell dies, the virus dies.
That said, viruses may survive on surfaces for a relatively short period of time. If their infected host cells are preserved in moisture, such as mucus from a cough or sneeze, they may survive long enough to infect someone else. It’s important to understand that while viruses can survive outside of the body, they can only replicate from within a living cell.
Similarly to influenza, the coronavirus, COVID-19, attacks the white blood cells of the respiratory tract. Named for its crown-shaped protein protruding from its membrane, the number 19 refers to the year it was first identified: 2019.
How Our Body Fights Viral Infections:
The virus enters our body through one of 2 ways: inhaled through particles in the air, or direct-entrance into our mucus membranes. Six feet of social distancing recommended by the CDC protects us. If your neighbor breaths out infected air, most viruses will land on the floor within 6 feet of the infected person. Beyond that distance, too few viruses would inhaled to cause infection. Direct contact refers to directly placing the virus into our eyes, nose, and mouth through touching with infected hands. Wash those hands for protection. Once inside our bodies, the virus finds a cell to live in. Once inside our cells, the virus has resources of food and water to replicate. Our white blood cells recognized the infected cells as an injured cell. —the virus tricks our white blood cells into absorbing its DNA through the cell membrane, where it can live, multiply, and shed itself in order to infect other cells.
Special white blood cells called macrophages eating devour the injured, weak or infected cell. Yep. Our white blood cell eats the sick cell. After the infected cell has been ingested, the macrophages begin breaking apart pieces of the infected membrane and using them as messengers to show our T-cells which cells the virus chose to live in. It says “Hey, this is where the virus is hiding. This is what it looks like. Go get it!”
This is where the T-cells come into play. T-cells respond to the message by looking for infected cells and targeting them with cytokines (remember this word!) Cytokines are protein, blob-like substances that float around and signal where danger happens in our bodies. Infected cells die because of this cytokine signal.
The efficiency and accuracy of our cytokines may be the most important message of this lecture. Cytokines must work with precision and cannot be too abundant. These proteins provide our greatest line of defense but can also be our greatest enemy. Autoimmune diseases cause great suffering through the overabundance and misdirection of these same cytokines. If your macrophages are unable to tell the difference between chronically inflamed cells, and infected ones, they send out a message to attack your own cells. If that message mistakingly sends the attack to your joints—what we call arthritis, or stomach lining—Crohn’s disease, or skin cells—psoriasis, or nervous system—multiple sclerosis, etc.
Cytokines dysregulated when you smoke, vape, drink, have cancer, diabetes, obesity, or if you suffer from depression or anxiety. Cytokines also go haywire if you’re elderly or sleep-deprived. All these things affect our cell replication and mess up our immune system. Age is the least of the enemies here. The older we get the more our cells replicate – true. But, the likelihood that our cytokines will misfire depends more on how inflamed your body has been for the last hundred days.
Regulation of our cytokines is important, and this is where the link between Ketosis and Immune function lies!
When our mitochondria have adapted to using ketones for energy, we produce cytokines with more provision. Not too many, not too few. We hit the needs of our system with precision attacking the injured cells and then resetting. The perfect surge of cytokines delivers more efficient white blood cells– a better quality white blood cells. We experience more accurate communication between our immune system and the invaders of our body. In contrast, those with chronic inflammation have sloppy cytokine response. Their immune systems constantly hear about problems throughout the body. This steady signal from the alarm system produces the wrong chemistry set. The steady signal creates too much noise to see the signal of real danger.
Below is a study that was done on mice, citing that keto-adapted mice were able to prevent and alleviate flu symptoms!
What Does Keto-Adaptive Mean?
This means your body has reset your body chemistry inside your body enough to routinely use ketones for fuel. Too much insulin and you can kiss your keto-adaptions good-bye. Too long without a healthy stress to your metabolism, and keto-adaption weakens. This topic will save for other blogs.
Once your body makes the switch to burning fat rather than sugar, you’ve reached the keto-adaptive state. It’s important to note that drinking ketones do not count. Your body must be producing them. Drinking ketones is fine for more energy and a quick boost, but it does not mean you’re keto-adaptive. This may take several days. Again, please reference my blog for more information.
You need to grow white blood cells. It takes 4 days to produce new white blood cells once you’re in that keto-adaptive state in order to reap the benefits.
What are My family and I Doing:
1) Isolating – As a physician, it’s difficult to get away when you know everybody. When we were trying to figure out a way to get my son home after his campus closed, we saw affordable plane tickets to Hawaii and we decided to go see him!
My parents were both sent to our family farm, despite their health problems—Grandma Rose, and her cancer, and Grandpa on home-dialysis and recently recovered from pseudomonas— their immune systems have keto-adaption on their side.
2) 2 high-fat, low-carbohydrate meals a day. My kids have been adapted to the ketogenic diet now for the better part of the last 5 years. It is my faith in God and having a strong keto-adapted immune system that makes me feel so grateful during this pandemic.
If you need motivation, please check out Anyway You Can.
3) Spending Time Together- we are playing cards, watching movies, reading, and surfing lessons. We aren’t interacting with very many people!
I believe that we are all going to be exposed to this virus. It’s extremely contagious and will take many lives, but it is only a virus and healthy immune systems are the key.
The difference in survival will come down to those who have the strongest immune system. I believe those with keto-adapted immune systems will perform better!
Produce ketones for protection.
Watch this for further education on immune systems and cytokines