When you’re following a keto diet plan, your body enters the state of ketosis. This means your body will produce beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in the liver. BHB has has a direct effect on inflammation. BHB activates genes that improve mitochondrial function and decrease oxidative stress.
It also inhibits the NLRP3 inflammasome that is a part of our innate immune system. This inflammasome starts an inflammatory response in several disorders including autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and auto-inflammatory disorders.
Ketosis activates the AMPK pathway (activated protein kinase) to regulate energy and inhibit the inflammatory nuclear factor in kappa light chain enhancer of activated B cells (nf-kB) pathways. This protein complex controls the transcription of DNA, inflammatory cytokine production, and cell survival (4).
One of the main benefits of adopting a keto diet meal plan is the ability of the diet to lower overall inflammation in the body. A 2020 study in mice shows that an acute increase of ketones in the blood can improve cardiac function in patients by lowering cardiac inflammation (5). The elevated circulating ketones improve heart failure outcomes through the reduction in cardiac inflammation. Mounting data suggests that the presence of ketones in the blood as a result of a keto diet offers a novel therapeutic approach for controlling pain and peripheral inflammation (6).
The keto diet, or fasting which also induces the creation of ketones in the liver, has been used for hundreds of years as a treatment for epilepsy and other brain disorders. The science is now catching up and showing us the mechanism by which it does this. The keto diet begins the molecular process to reduce brain inflammation. It is now being used with more regularity to treat and protect against against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (7). The development of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases starts with chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, which are greatly reduced by the keto diet. Alongside this, the greater weight loss has a positive correlation with the larger the anti-inflammatory effect (8).
The keto diet not only promotes the formation of these anti-inflammatory ketone bodies, but a well formulated keto meal plan is also associated with plenty of anti-inflammatory foods that help to fight against inflammation. This includes eggs, processed meats, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, sausages, cheeses, fatty fish, nuts, butter, spinach, chard, kale, broccoli, seeds, and fibrous vegetables.