Bloating, bad skin, flushed cheeks, inconsistent energy.

These are some of the outward symptoms of inflammation. But it can also lead to serious internal ramifications like diabetes or cancer as well.

Research suggests that following the keto diet may reduce inflammation and dramatically improve your health overall through a variety of mechanisms.[1]

In this article…

We’re going to see how the role keto diet plays in inflammation.

Signs of inflammation and their triggers

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is the way your body protects itself from infection, illness, or injury. In a nutshell, it’s a defense mechanism.

What happens is your body increases the production of white blood cells, immune cells, and substances called cytokines that help fight infection.

Chronic or long-term inflammation is a pathway to some serious health conditions: Diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, and cancer.

That’s not all…

Inflammation also affects your immune system. Certain typical immune responses are necessary for functions like wound and tissue repair. However, inflammation can deregulate these processes, or cause a chronic reaction with no resolution.

This reaction, or chronic low-grade inflammation, can fester over time and result in diseases related to aging or obesity.[2]

Who’s to blame?

Sugar and corn syrup are two major triggers for inflammation. By sugar, we mean added or refined sugars, i.e. table sugar.

On a topical level, sugar can inflame the skin and make you look much older than you really are. However, it’s the effect that sugar has on internal organs that is deeply troublesome.

In one scientific study about how sugar affects inflammation, groups of mice were fed typical Western diets with added sugar.

The results suggested that fructose derived from the sucrose (table sugar) caused inflammation in several groups of mice. Further, facilitating the growth of breast cancer tumors and metastasis in those cases.

Therefore, the study suggests that there was a link between sugar intake and increased risk of cancer.[3]

Corn syrup is also just plain bad for you—particularly high fructose corn syrup. This is commonly found in foods like soda, candy, and juices.

Other inflammation triggers:

  • Refined carbs (white bread, pasta, etc)
  • Processed or packaged foods with trans fats (Desserts like doughnuts and cookies, frozen pizza, crackers, chips, pretzels, etc. Also if it has ‘partially hydrogenated’ ingredients, steer clear.)
  • Processed meats (Hot dogs, salami, etc)
  • Vegetable oils
  • Alcohol

These foods are often comprised of artificial ingredients, not natural ones. It is little surprise that they, in a way, set your organs on fire.

But guess what?

The keto diet may reduce inflammation

The ketogenic diet has a huge advantage in reducing inflammation. It is based on consuming more whole foods low in carbs, moderate in protein, and high in healthy fats, and cutting out processed foods.

Research has demonstrated that a diet restricted in carbohydrates may mitigate biomarkers of inflammation.

To name a few:

New research also shows that the keto diet has a mechanism that reduces inflammation in the brain.

There is ample evidence that the diet helps with epilepsy treatment. However, it could also help diseases such as brain trauma or strokes that are the result of brain inflammation.

In one study, scientists caused inflammation in the brains of rats. Then, they introduced a molecule called 2-deoxyglucose which blocks glucose, a function of the keto diet.

This dramatically lowered levels of inflammation and is a strong indicator of how the keto diet may suppress inflammation.[4]

Foods that will mitigate inflammation

It’s critical to consume the foods that the keto diet is based on–whole foods that aren’t processed and are rich in antioxidants and nutrients. Some of these include:

  • Vegetables-Go for darker pigmented ones like broccoli or kale.
  • Fruits: Again, go for darker pigmented ones like grapes or cherries.
  • Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocados, salmon, sardines, anchovies, etc.
  • Nuts: Almonds, different nut types.
  • Chocolate: Choose chocolate that is comprised mainly of cacao, which is easy to find in types of dark chocolate.
  • Spices: Turmeric is very popular right now as a health ingredient.
  • Green tea: Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks out there, and it is well known for being packed with antioxidants and having a soothing effect on the body.
  • Peppers: Bell peppers and chili peppers.

Lifestyle tips for reducing inflammation

Apart from just diet, it’s important to adjust your lifestyle in order to reduce inflammation and its associated health complications. Some lifestyle tips are as follows:

Too much sedentary behavior has been linked to biomarkers that indicate chronic low-grade inflammation and poor metabolic health. Consistent exercise is optimal for any diet.

Health supplements
Fish oil, curcumin, ginger, and spirulina are all regarded as different types of supplements that are anti-inflammatory. They can be consumed orally in pill form, as in the case of fish oil and curcumin (turmeric extract), or mixed in with foods, as spirulina can.

Even though it’s well known that getting enough sleep is extremely important, people still seem to skimp out on it.

Sleep loss can contribute to chemical immune responses associated with inflammation. This can result in developing cardiovascular, metabolic, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Additionally, not getting enough sleep can cause you to depend on the following: Energy drinks, soda, and candy to name a few. This, of course, will trigger more inflammation, among other things.[5]

Final Thoughts…

After sticking with the low-carb, whole foods featured in the ketogenic diet, you will start to feel better overall.

After all, such foods are packed with natural nutrients and ingredients, not artificial ones. And since they aren’t processed, you know exactly what’s going in your body.

These diet and lifestyle changes will go a long way in not only reducing inflammation but improving your overall health.


[1] Masino, S. A. (Ed.). (2016). Ketogenic Diet and Metabolic Therapies: Expanded Roles in Health and Disease. Oxford University Press.

[2] Alexander M, O’Connell RM. Noncoding RNAs and chronic inflammation: Micromanaging the fire within. Bioessays. 2015 Sep;37(9):1005-15.

[3] Jiang Y, Pan Y, Rhea PR, Tan L, Gagea M, Cohen L, Fischer SM, Yang P. A Sucrose-Enriched Diet Promotes Tumorigenesis in Mammary Gland in Part through the 12-Lipoxygenase Pathway. Cancer Res. 2016 Jan 1;76(1):24-9.

[4] Yiguo Shen and others. “Bioenergetic state regulates innate inflammatory responses through the transcriptional co-repressor CtBP.” Nature Communications. September 22nd, 2017.

[5] Hurtado-Alvarado, Gabriela and others. “Sleep Loss as a Factor to Induce Cellular and Molecular Inflammatory Variations.” Hindawi Journal of Immunology Research. October 21, 2013.