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Study Supports Vegan or Ketogenic Diet for Cancer or Inflammation Treatments

A recent study by researchers at the NIH (National Institutes of Health) says that changing diet to vegan or Ketogenic might be one of the ways of treating cancer or inflammatory conditions. It says that those who switched to a vegan or ketogenic (aka, Keto) diet for two weeks, saw their immune system change.

The researchers closely monitored a small group of people who switched their diet to either vegan or keto and monitored the differences: it led to their immune system adaptabilities, such as “vegan diet prompted responses being linked to innate immunity in the body’s non-specific first line of defense against pathogens while the keto diet prompted responses associated with adaptive immunity that pathogen, specific immunity built through exposures in their daily lives and vaccination.”

The two main authors, Yasmine Belkaid, Ph.D., former chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Host Immunity and Microbiome, now president of the Institut Pasteur, Paris, France, and another researcher, Kevin Hall, Ph.D., chief of the Integrative Physiology Section in the NIDDK Laboratory of Biological Modeling are available to discuss this research. This study was posted on NatureMedicine and is still an ongoing progress.

The study says metabolic changes to the participants’ microbiome communities of bacteria living in the gut control the better conditions for the good bacteria living and fighting against bad bacteria to improve health.

The study was conducted by scientists from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the Metabolic Clinical Research Unit in the NIH Clinical Center.

In a month-long study of 20 people, all are different races, genders, ethnicities, BMI (body mass index), and ages. They ate as much as desired of one diet (vegan or keto) for two weeks, and as much as desired of the other diet for two weeks. The scientists collected the participants’ blood, urines, and stools for analysis.

“Switching exclusively to the strict diets caused notable changes in all participants. The vegan diet significantly impacted pathways linked to the innate immune system, including antiviral responses. On the other hand, the keto diet led to significant increases in biochemical and cellular processes linked to adaptive immunity, such as pathways associated with T and B cells. The keto diet affected levels of more proteins in the blood plasma than the vegan diet, as well as proteins from a wider range of tissues, such as the blood, brain, and bone marrow. The vegan diet promoted more red blood cell-linked pathways, including those involved in heme metabolism, which could be due to the higher iron content of this diet. Additionally, both diets produced changes in the microbiomes of the participants, causing shifts in the abundance of gut bacterial species that previously had been linked to the diets. The keto diet was associated with changes in amino acid metabolism—an increase in human metabolic pathways for the production and degradation of amino acids and a reduction in microbial pathways for these processes—which might reflect the higher amounts of protein consumed by people on this diet.”

According to the authors, the results of this study demonstrate that the immune system responds surprisingly rapidly to nutritional interventions. The authors suggest that it may be possible to tailor diets to prevent disease or complement disease treatments, such as by slowing processes associated with cancer or neurodegenerative disorders.

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