Does the Ketogenic Diet Reduce Inflammation?
The ketogenic diet is characterized by a high fat consumption and a very low carbohydrate consumption restricted to 5-10% of total daily intake.4–6 Although the diet has been shown to improve various metabolic parameters, research on the effects of ketogenic diet on inflammation is currently limited. Existing studies, however, suggest that the ketogenic diet may be an effective way to combat inflammation and improve conditions known to be associated with inflammation.
For instance, a small randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (VLCKD) to low fat diet for 12 weeks in 40 overweight women and men found that VLCKD was associated with more favorable changes in blood lipid levels and inflammatory markers.7 Additionally, a 2024 systematic review and meta-analysis of 43 RCTs studying the effects of ketogenic diet on inflammatory markers found similar results, concluding that the ketogenic diet was associated with reductions in inflammatory markers interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor-a.8
How Does the Ketogenic Diet Help With Inflammation & Inflammatory Diseases?
High carbohydrate consumption is known to promote inflammatory pathways, and consequently, lowering dietary carbohydrates can result in reductions in proinflammatory markers.7 On a more molecular level, the ketogenic diet induces a state of ketosis where the body breaks down and utilizes fat reserves as the primary source of energy instead of glucose.6–8 This state of ketosis can improve systemic inflammation by improving hyperinsulinemia (ie, elevated levels of insulin), synthesizing beta-hydroxybutyrate (ie, a form of ketone), and increasing glucagon.6
Additionally, the impact of weight loss on reducing inflammation cannot be overlooked. Obesity is a chronic disease associated with chronic inflammation and a host of metabolic diseases associated with inflammation.3,9,10 Studies have consistently shown that the diet can promote weight loss and improve various parameters of metabolic health, including insulin resistance and lipid profiles.4,5,11,12 Given that inflammation is implicated in the pathophysiology of obesity-related metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that are atherosclerotic in nature (ie, due to the build-up of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels), experts believe that the ketogenic diet improves metabolic health by alleviating inflammation.1,3,9,10,13
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