A vegan diet and ketogenic diets lead to different, significant changes in the immune system after just a short time. The vegan diet triggers reactions that are related to the innate immune response, while the ketogenic diet influences the so-called adaptive immune response. At the same time, both forms of nutrition also change the intestinal flora.
In a new study, experts at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda examined the effects of a vegan and ketogenic diet on the immune system and intestinal flora. The results are published in the journal “Nature Medicine”.
Host immunity and microbiota examined
For the study, a total of twenty participants were instructed to alternately eat a vegan or ketogenic diet for two weeks. Blood, urine and stool samples were collected for analysis throughout the study period.
Using the so-called multiomics approach, the researchers then examined the effects of the two diets on the so-called host immunity and the microbiota.
Effects of ketogenic diet
It was shown that the ketogenic diet was associated with a significant upregulation of signaling pathways and at the same time with an enrichment of cells of the adaptive immune system, reports the research team.
Vegan diet affects innate immune system
In contrast, the evaluation showed a significant impact on the innate immune response when switching to a vegan diet, including an upregulation of specific signaling pathways that are linked to antiviral immunity, the researchers continued.
Different effects can be observed
According to the research team, the two dietary changes examined had significantly different effects on the microbiome and the so-called host-associated amino acid metabolism.
The experts explain that the switch to a ketogenic diet was associated with a strong downregulation of most microbial metabolic pathways compared to the baseline value before the change in diet and the consumption of a vegan diet.
In summary, it can be said that the vegan diet triggers reactions that are related to the innate immune response, the body’s first non-specific defense against pathogens.
In contrast, the ketogenic diet influences the adaptive immune response, i.e. the pathogen-specific immunity that is built up after exposure in everyday life and through vaccinations, the team said in a press release.
Influence on intestinal flora and immune system
In addition, the intestinal flora of the participants also changed as a result of both diet changes examined. According to the research team, these changes should now be examined in more detail in further studies to determine whether they are beneficial or detrimental.
Overall, the current study makes it clear that the type of diet not only influences the composition of the intestinal flora, but also the body’s first reaction to pathogens and the pathogen-specific immunity that is normally built up in everyday life and through vaccinations. (as)