3

votes

Low carb diet and its effect on the immune system.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 22, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Okay, trying to expand my knowledge here, guys. Please help out.

I read that white blood cells require carbohydrate to operate. Does this mean that a low carb interpretation of the Paleo diet could hamper or otherwise cause problems with the body's immune response?

I'm looking for a scientific answer, if possible.

Thanks for your help in advance.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 11:19 PM

I see. Some people do report higher fasting BG with ketosis -- physiological insulin resistance. I wonder if that's what you're experiencing? How high is high? That's interesting about ALA, too. Congratulations on the the weight loss and lessening symptoms!

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 23, 2011
at 10:21 PM

I am quick to suspect cortisol because I have chronic cortisol symptoms as part of a horrible metabolic syndrome-type condition. This is hugely improving now and after losing 43lb to date. I'll read the link to your question now.

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 23, 2011
at 10:17 PM

No, thanks, Ambimorph I see what you are asking. I live in the UK and we can't get cortisol testing here, so I have to figure it out from the symptoms. On VLC and after all my glycogen is used up, I get apparent low blood-sugar symptoms. But when I test for ketones and glucose, I find that both are high, so something is making me more insulin resistant. I can't see what this can be other than cortisol. If I then take some alpha-lipoic acid, my body seems to be able to find the glucose that's in my blood. Interesting about low clearance/enhanced regeneration.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 03:40 PM

Actually, even if your cortisol is higher, that doesn't mean the production is raised. It probably means your clearance is lower, and your regeneration is enhanced.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 03:33 PM

I'm not trying to be antagonistic, by the way. Sorry if it comes across that way. I'm just trying to find out if this actually happens to people, or if people are guessing this is what's happening to them based on the meme that's going around. If you actually measured and got this result, I'd be very interested.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 03:30 PM

My question is, how do you know that in your case your cortisol is elevated? Did you do 24 hr salivary tests before and after?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 03:29 PM

Even though cortisol increases gluconeogenesis, that doesn't imply gluconeogenesis requires cortisol. I've written extensively about that: http://paleohacks.com/questions/25449/why-do-people-consider-ketosis-stressful-to-the-body/26332#26332

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 23, 2011
at 11:23 AM

An important function of cortisol is to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis. The hypothalamus, via the pituitary gland, signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol in turn is a signal to the liver to synthesise glucose. In my case, I end up with too much cortisol, and also too much glucose, as the cortisol reduces insulin sensitivity. I know this doesn't happen to everybody - I would prefer to reduce carbs lower if I could, as even the small-ish amount I eat is enough to support dysbiosis.

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 23, 2011
at 10:11 AM

A primary function of cortisol is to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis. The hypothalamus, via the pituitary gland, signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol in turn is a signal to the liver to synthesise glucose. In my case I end up with too much cortisol and too much glucose. This doesn't happen to everybody.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 04:07 AM

How do you know it leads to excess cortisol production?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 22, 2011
at 06:47 PM

Maybe it's also why people lose their appetite when they get sick.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:47 PM

Also the activity of phagocytic cells in your blood stream is unlikely to have much effect on your general immunity to common infections as bacteria and viruses do not often get into your bloodstream. If you have bacteria septicemia you will probably not be eating anything and be in a hospital bed.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:42 PM

Phagocyte immune cells in your blood are partly responsible for oxidizing your LDL cholesterol. Less active immune cells in your blood may be good for long-term health. Just a possibility, there are always different possible interpretations...

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:34 PM

second-opinions is so biased sometimes it is just funny.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:20 PM

I also don't really buy it because it doesn't jive with my experience of not being sick in years, yet I'm eating more sugar than I ever have in my whole life.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:18 PM

I'm just saying all they are measuring is markers not actual real life immunity. How do I know that the cells don't react by super-compensating and becoming extremely immune? Its no cognitive dissonance its called being skeptical, which we should be considering this is one study measuring one variable. We also have no idea if other foods besides carbohydrates cause this effect because they have no studies for that.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on December 22, 2011
at 02:06 PM

I expected you to be all over this cliff, but compare starch to sugars for a moment. Why on earth would it be beneficial? Cognitive dissonance much?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:45 PM

wheres the test with non carbohydrate foods? How do we know this isn't beneficial? :)

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:42 PM

All I know about the studies you can find in the references under the link. So the first study (2) appeared in the american journal of clinical nutrition.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:37 PM

I don't know more about the studies than is written on the site and it's references: 2. Sanchez A, et al. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Am J Clin Nutr 1973; 26: 1180-84 3. Ringsdorf WM jr, Cheraskin E and Ramsey RR jr. Sucrose, Neutrophilic Phagocytosis, and Resistance to Disease. Dent Surv 1976; 52 (12): 46-48

33d79be41042b7e6f62191ccfa9fde8d

on December 22, 2011
at 01:16 PM

Really interesting stuff Dean. Thank you so much for that. Do you know if this study is peer reviewed and if it appeared in a journal at all? Thanks again :-)

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2 Answers

6
2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on December 22, 2011
at 12:23 PM

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:20 PM

I also don't really buy it because it doesn't jive with my experience of not being sick in years, yet I'm eating more sugar than I ever have in my whole life.

33d79be41042b7e6f62191ccfa9fde8d

on December 22, 2011
at 01:16 PM

Really interesting stuff Dean. Thank you so much for that. Do you know if this study is peer reviewed and if it appeared in a journal at all? Thanks again :-)

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:34 PM

second-opinions is so biased sometimes it is just funny.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:45 PM

wheres the test with non carbohydrate foods? How do we know this isn't beneficial? :)

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:42 PM

All I know about the studies you can find in the references under the link. So the first study (2) appeared in the american journal of clinical nutrition.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:18 PM

I'm just saying all they are measuring is markers not actual real life immunity. How do I know that the cells don't react by super-compensating and becoming extremely immune? Its no cognitive dissonance its called being skeptical, which we should be considering this is one study measuring one variable. We also have no idea if other foods besides carbohydrates cause this effect because they have no studies for that.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on December 22, 2011
at 02:06 PM

I expected you to be all over this cliff, but compare starch to sugars for a moment. Why on earth would it be beneficial? Cognitive dissonance much?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 22, 2011
at 06:47 PM

Maybe it's also why people lose their appetite when they get sick.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:47 PM

Also the activity of phagocytic cells in your blood stream is unlikely to have much effect on your general immunity to common infections as bacteria and viruses do not often get into your bloodstream. If you have bacteria septicemia you will probably not be eating anything and be in a hospital bed.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:37 PM

I don't know more about the studies than is written on the site and it's references: 2. Sanchez A, et al. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Am J Clin Nutr 1973; 26: 1180-84 3. Ringsdorf WM jr, Cheraskin E and Ramsey RR jr. Sucrose, Neutrophilic Phagocytosis, and Resistance to Disease. Dent Surv 1976; 52 (12): 46-48

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:42 PM

Phagocyte immune cells in your blood are partly responsible for oxidizing your LDL cholesterol. Less active immune cells in your blood may be good for long-term health. Just a possibility, there are always different possible interpretations...

0
559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

on December 22, 2011
at 03:13 PM

Most tissues in the body can get their energy from burning fat. Others can't burn fat but can burn ketones (a by-product of fat-burning). A small number of cells, mostly in the brain, can only get their energy from glucose. I don't know where white blood cells fit into this picture - perhaps another PH will know.

The liver will release glucose into the blood stream as and when it's needed. Unless you have problems with insulin sensitivity (or production), this is a well-controlled process in which the liver automatically maintains blood sugar levels within their correct range.

The liver can normally, if and when necessary, derive the necessary glucose from the breakdown of proteins and fats. So it's not strictly speaking essential to eat any carbohydrates in order to get the correct amount of glucose into the tissues.

Some people (like me) however don't like having to rely on breaking down fat and protein to get their glucose. In my case, it leads to excessive cortisol production. Instead, I aim to eat just enough starch (which is broken down by digestion into glucose) and/or glucose to meet the physiological requirement for glucose and maintain a bit of glycogen in reserve in the liver.

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 23, 2011
at 11:23 AM

An important function of cortisol is to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis. The hypothalamus, via the pituitary gland, signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol in turn is a signal to the liver to synthesise glucose. In my case, I end up with too much cortisol, and also too much glucose, as the cortisol reduces insulin sensitivity. I know this doesn't happen to everybody - I would prefer to reduce carbs lower if I could, as even the small-ish amount I eat is enough to support dysbiosis.

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 23, 2011
at 10:11 AM

A primary function of cortisol is to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis. The hypothalamus, via the pituitary gland, signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol in turn is a signal to the liver to synthesise glucose. In my case I end up with too much cortisol and too much glucose. This doesn't happen to everybody.

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 23, 2011
at 10:21 PM

I am quick to suspect cortisol because I have chronic cortisol symptoms as part of a horrible metabolic syndrome-type condition. This is hugely improving now and after losing 43lb to date. I'll read the link to your question now.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 03:30 PM

My question is, how do you know that in your case your cortisol is elevated? Did you do 24 hr salivary tests before and after?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 04:07 AM

How do you know it leads to excess cortisol production?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 11:19 PM

I see. Some people do report higher fasting BG with ketosis -- physiological insulin resistance. I wonder if that's what you're experiencing? How high is high? That's interesting about ALA, too. Congratulations on the the weight loss and lessening symptoms!

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 03:29 PM

Even though cortisol increases gluconeogenesis, that doesn't imply gluconeogenesis requires cortisol. I've written extensively about that: http://paleohacks.com/questions/25449/why-do-people-consider-ketosis-stressful-to-the-body/26332#26332

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 03:40 PM

Actually, even if your cortisol is higher, that doesn't mean the production is raised. It probably means your clearance is lower, and your regeneration is enhanced.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on December 23, 2011
at 03:33 PM

I'm not trying to be antagonistic, by the way. Sorry if it comes across that way. I'm just trying to find out if this actually happens to people, or if people are guessing this is what's happening to them based on the meme that's going around. If you actually measured and got this result, I'd be very interested.

559a1bf85bfe38a0fbbf56377c7278b4

(1548)

on December 23, 2011
at 10:17 PM

No, thanks, Ambimorph I see what you are asking. I live in the UK and we can't get cortisol testing here, so I have to figure it out from the symptoms. On VLC and after all my glycogen is used up, I get apparent low blood-sugar symptoms. But when I test for ketones and glucose, I find that both are high, so something is making me more insulin resistant. I can't see what this can be other than cortisol. If I then take some alpha-lipoic acid, my body seems to be able to find the glucose that's in my blood. Interesting about low clearance/enhanced regeneration.

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