Scientists have found that an Atkins-style diet could have an added benefit in winter – by keeping the flu at bay.

Sticking to a diet low in carbohydrates but high in fat appears to stimulate the immune system, helping ward off the viral infection.

The intriguing discovery comes from a study in which two groups of mice were put on different diets and then exposed to a virulent strain of flu.

First, seven mice were kept for a week on a ‘standard’ diet high in carbohydrates, before being given doses of ‘A’-strain flu. They all started showing symptoms of the illness within four days.

Their intake comprised 90 per cent fat, nine per cent protein and just one per cent carbohydrates – after which, only half succumbed to the virus.

The startling results from researchers at Yale School of Medicine in the US were published in the journal Science Immunology.

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