Ketogenic misconceptions (I)

Ketogenic misconceptions (I)

Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis

Understanding the risks

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Many people have proposed that ketogenic diets are dangerous, and although we won’t enter in this argument, we would like to explain the difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis.

To accomplish this goal we will start by explaining what each of this terms means and why they could have been linked to give rise to this misconception.

Ketosis

As we saw with the tactician metaphor, ketosis is the state in which due to a lack of glucose and an incapability to use the fatty acids as energy by many types of cells, we have to use a new form of energy, ketones.

Ketones are molecules obtained from transforming the fatty acids and are special due to the fact that they can be used by the brain as a form of energy instead of glucose. This fact is extremely important due to the competition that happens between the brain and other organs for the glucose we produce. The importance of ketones comes from the fact that they help us feed the brain when the glucose supply is limited.

Ketosis has been shown to be harmless in many studies and even beneficial in some, we will touch upong this and the work of Dr. Dominic D’ Agostino in future articles.

Now that we know what is ketosis, let us delve into what is ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis

One of the biggest problems ketogenic diets have faced is the erroneous correlation with ketoacidosis. This is specially so because while ketosis is harmless, ketoacidosis is known to be extremely dangerous and in many cases possibly fatal.

Now, to understand diabetic ketoacidosis let us start by understanding diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is dangerous because even though the body already has enough glucose to feed the different organs that need it, mainly brain and others that can’t use fatty acids, it still keeps on producing ketones.

This excessive production of ketones is dangerous due to the nature of ketones themselves. Ketones are acids, this means that when they are in a medium, in this case our blood, these molecules make that medium more acidic. This can be extremely dangerous because it can affect our cells and organs and harm their structures leading unto death if left for too long.

This can happen in situations  in which we don’t have enough insulin to process all the glucose in our bloodstream, but at the same time we continue producing ketones.

This can lead to ketoacidosis because our brain, the main user of ketones, prefers glucose and as such would give priority to the glucose while letting the ketones build up until we end in ketoacidosis.

This is especially dangerous for patients with diabetes type I because of their inability to produce insulin or problems with its function.

The problem that many patients with  diabetes type I could face with a ketogenic diet is one of the main reasons for the stigma they bear, but as we have seen ketosis and ketoacidosis aren’t the same, although depending on your health condition ketosis could develop into ketoacidosis.

This illustrates the importance of consulting with your physician whenever you plan a change in diet in order to understand any possible risks you could face during the process.

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Disclaimer

Consult a doctor before doing anything in this article.The material in this article is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the diet in this article. The author  expressly disclaims responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained in this article.

References

Jason Fung, Jimmy Moore ”The  Complete Guide To Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting”.2016. Victory Belt Pub.

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