Decoding Dietary Impact: A Deep Dive into Vegan and Keto Diets

Decoding Dietary Impact: A Deep Dive into Vegan and Keto Diets

The study demonstrated that transitioning exclusively to a vegan or keto diet resulted in substantial and distinct changes in participants’ immune systems and metabolic pathways.



Written by Saumya Pandey |Published: Jan 31, 2024 12:29 PM IST

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted a groundbreaking study examining immune system speed and metabolic changes associated with switching to vegan and ketogenic (keto) diets. The study aimed to decipher the impact of these diets on the body’s innate and adaptive immunity, as well as alterations in participants’ microbiomes. The study involved 20 diverse participants, encompassing variations in ethnicity, race, gender, body mass index (BMI), and age. Individuals sequentially followed vegan and keto diets for two weeks each, in randomized order. Each person consumed as much as they wanted from one diet, followed by the other. The vegan diet was characterized by approximately 10% fat and 75% carbohydrates, while the keto diet contained approximately 76% fat and 10% carbohydrates. Participants on the vegan diet naturally consumed fewer calories than those on the keto diet.

Data collection: a global “multi-omics” approach

Throughout the month-long study, blood, urine and stool samples were collected for analysis. The “multi-omics” approach was used to assess biochemical, cellular, metabolic and immune responses, as well as changes in the microbiome.

Key findings: immune and metabolic impact of vegan and keto diets

  • Vegan diet: The vegan diet triggered pathways related to the innate immune system, emphasizing antiviral responses. More red blood cell-related pathways were observed, potentially influenced by the higher iron content of the vegan diet.
  • Keto Diet: The keto diet triggered biochemical and cellular processes associated with adaptive immunity, focusing on pathways related to T and B cells. Greater changes in blood plasma proteins and tissues, including the brain and bone marrow, have been observed with the keto diet.

Changes in the microbiome: change in bacterial abundance

  • Commonality: Both diets induced changes in gut bacterial species, aligning with previous associations between specific bacteria and dietary patterns.
  • Specifics of the keto diet: Changes in amino acid metabolism were linked to higher protein consumption on the keto diet, affecting both human and microbial pathways.

Conclusions: adapting diets to health interventions

The study demonstrated that transitioning exclusively to a vegan or keto diet resulted in substantial and distinct changes in participants’ immune systems and metabolic pathways. The rapidity of these responses suggests the possibility of adapting diets to prevent or complement treatments for the disease. Further research is essential to understand specific impacts on immune components and to explore potential therapeutic applications of nutritional interventions in conditions such as cancer or neurodegenerative disorders. The study sheds light on the complex interplay between food choices and the body’s complex systems, paving the way for personalized health strategies.




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