Dangerous claims the keto diet will ‘protect’ from coronavirus are unsupported

Dangerous claims the keto diet will ‘protect’ from coronavirus are unsupported

The ketogenic diet has proven weight loss benefits, but health experts claim the famous diet is not a cure for – or even a protection from – coronavirus. 

As the coronavirus outbreak continues everyone’s number one priority is their wellbeing. In an effort to protect their health and fight COVID-19, individuals are looking for ways to boost their immunity. And eating healthy is one strategy.

But with so much misleading information floating around the web, it’s hard to differentiate between reliable facts and deceptive myths – like Aussie model Miranda Kerr who was recently slammed for her “dangerous” COVID-19 advice.

Currently, one diet that is being touted on social media as a possible saviour from coronavirus is the ketogenic diet.

American Doctor Adam Nally, who’s a known advocate of the ‘keto/carnivore lifestyle’, hasn’t been shy in sharing his message of ‘protection’ on social media. Similarly Perfect Keto recently shared an article about how the trending diet boosts immunity and reduces flu-like symptoms, which could be misleading to those worried about contracting coronavirus. Tweets like this don’t help, either.

What is the ketogenic diet?

Keto has been enthusiastically embraced by many celebrities (2020 MAFS star Cathy Evans, Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow rave about its benefits), but it has also gotten a bad rap. Martha from MAFS, for example, swears she’ll never do it again due to it’s restrictive nature. It’s also got some seriously odd side effects like keto-rash, keto-crotch and keto-breath. No thanks.

Keto works by tricking the body into burning fat by putting it into a metabolic state of “ketosis” via a very low-carb diet. Individuals following the diet aim to get most calories from fats and only one per cent from carbohydrates.

Despite social media claims that keto may help individuals to resist infection from COVID-19, health experts are warning people that the infamous diet will not protect anyone against the deadly coronavirus disease.

Why Keto won’t prevent coronavirus

Medical expert Dr Farhat told Express “As ever, you should always be discerning about any medical claims made on social media.”

“I can say with confidence that there is no scientific evidence to show that ketosis can help ward off viruses, particularly coronavirus in humans,” he added.

The restrictive nature of the diet may not be ideal in the current state of the pandemic either.

“What’s important is that a keto diet deprives the body of carbohydrates, which is needed for daily energy.”

During the process of ketosis, ketones are produced. These ketones are acidic substances and if there’s too much present in the bloodstream, they may damage the liver and kidneys.

“The keto diet can overload the kidneys due to an excess of protein and there’s also the risk of liver problems,” explained Dr Farhat.

Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.

So, how can you protect yourself from coronavirus?

According to other leading medical professionals, no food or diet will single-handedly take down the infection. While eating healthy is important, there is no secret cure and we’re all still waiting on a vaccine.

Recently, Caroline Apovian – the Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Centre at Boston Medical Centre – explained to Business Insider that “We can’t prevent getting coronavirus by taking vitamins and eating oranges. It’s a very infectious disease.”

“If you’re in contact with coronavirus, it doesn’t matter how many oranges you eat, you’re going to get it,” she added.

During The Dr. Oz Show (which aired 6 March), the famous heart surgeon dished some COVID-19 preventative health tips. Dr Oz recommended an overall approach to staying safe during the pandemic, including measures of good sleep (more than seven hours each night), half an hour of exercise daily and meditation to ease any mental strain.

He even posted a myth-busting diagram on his Instagram to help his quell confusion.

The key is “proper diet, sleep, exercise”

Previously, accredited practicing dietitian Sylvia North told body+soul that you may develop “keto flu” for a few days when you switch to the keto diet while your body adjusts.

With that in mind, now might not be the time to drastically change your diet and try something new.

To stay healthy (and sane) during self-isolation, the World Health Organisation suggests sticking to a “proper diet, sleep, exercise”.

Essential coronavirus reading:

How Australians should sensibly prepare for a COVID-19 pandemic, the most dangerous myths to not buy into, why surgical face masks aren’t the answer, the five-step hand washing method to memorise, the proper way to use hand sanitiser, why hand dryers are a part of the problem and the seven most effective ways to protect yourself, according to a doctor.