As the cooler months begin to roll around it seems runny noses, colds and flu suddenly spike but is this simply due to the cold itself or are there things we can do to minimise the chance of getting sick?
You might remember your grandmother telling you to stay away from the draft, put on a warm woolly jumper if going out in the cold and not to go to bed with wet hair – so are these the solutions we should be turning to?
The connection between the cold and getting sick is a complex one. There are many myths that exist in this regard but there are also things that we can do to lessen our chance of sickness. Numerous studies have been done over the years linking what we eat and our lifestyle habits to our level of inflammation and our immunity or ability to fight infection. The list of do’s and dont’s is endless and here are a few of the more common ones:
- Load up on dark green leafy vegetables
- Skip the alcohol (well at least not every day)
- Drink green tea
- Stay well hydrated
- Eat more dark chocolate – the real stuff, 85% or greater
- Include plenty of fish in your diet, in particular oily fish
- Create predictable sleep routines and get enough sleep
- Calm down!
- Keep moving
However amongst all these general recommendations comes one very specific and well documented approach to diet that is now proving more and more so to be effective in terms of immunity and inflammation.
The media has done a great job lately of promoting a ketogenic diet i.e. a very low carbohydrate diet, particularly in reference to weight loss or more specifically losing body fat and this association is certainly correct. What you may not know and what is a lot less well publicized is that having ketones present in your blood has numerous other health benefits, many of which are only being uncovered by current research.
Inflammation is a life-maintaining biological process. It is a mechanism our bodies use to deal with internal and external events, such as combating infections, repairing tissues or dealing with the consequences of traumatic injury. A degree of inflammation is necessary for life, however too much inflammation is a problem many of us are facing as a result of our environment and lifestyle.
Drugs can be a quick short-term fix for excessive inflammation but there are lifestyle and dietary modifications that you can make to give yourself a better chance at fighting infection by decreasing your inflammation.
Multiple studies have linked high levels of inflammation in people who have diets high in sugar, trans fat (hydrogenated fats), vegetable/seed oils, refined carbohydrates and alcohol. When we remove or significantly reduce these inflammatory foods from our diet not only do we benefit from not having these foods present but as a result we begin to knock on the door of a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet results in an increased level of ketones in the blood and this has recently been shown to aid in controlling chronic inflammation. Ketone bodies themselves have been touted as having anti-inflammatory properties and act within our bodies to inhibit numerous inflammatory pathways.
Ketosis is a safe and effective way to control inflammation thereby giving yourself a better chance at avoiding bugs that might be lurking this winter.
So how do you increase the ketone levels in your blood? A combination of a low carbohydrate diet with some intermittent fasting is the most effective and quickest way of boosting your ketone levels. This combination forces your body to begin using fat as a main fuel source. When fat is broken down, ketone bodies in your blood increase. Production of energy from ketones is both very efficient and clean, a combination that will not only give you the ammunition to fight disease more effectively but will also leave you feeling amazingly energised.
Interested in giving the ketogenic diet a go this winter? Join our 6-week Low Carb Challenge and we’ll show you exactly how to implement this way of life, step-by-step. We kick things off on the 6th of May – join us online from anywhere. Click here for more details