Note: Ketosis and its symptoms are often confused with diabetic ketoacidosis. However, diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition, where a severe deficiency of insulin, leads to a toxic buildup of blood glucose, accompanied by excessive breakdown of fat and muscle tissues. However, such alarming levels of ketone bodies are not usually seen in healthy individuals.
Our body produces energy from the glucose we get from the consumed carbohydrates. But when glucose is not available, the liver produces ketone bodies to provide the body with the required energy. Although ketones are always present in the body, their levels can rise during a period of prolonged fasting. This condition is called ketosis.
The most common cause of ketosis is following a low-carb diet. When one switches over from a high-glycemic diet to a low-glycemic diet, their body enters into a stage of ketosis. The body does not immediately start producing ketones, but if carbohydrates are not included in the diet for a long time, say two days or more, the body starts utilizing the energy from its fat stores. The glucose is thus preserved only for dire conditions like preventing protein and muscle breakdown.
The initial stage of ketosis is considered relatively harmless. In fact, ketosis has also been deliberately induced through a ketogenic diet to treat epilepsy. However, prolonged ketosis is harmful for the body and is highly discouraged.
The most common symptoms of ketosis include:
- Excessive thirst
- Nausea accompanied by abdominal pain
- Problems with sleeping
- Bad breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Metallic, sweet, or fruity taste in the mouth
- Strong smelling urine
- Loss of appetite
- Temporary sense of euphoria
A confirmatory urine test can be done to see whether the body is in a state of ketosis. One can purchase ketosis strips that are easily available in the market. The strip changes color if ketone bodies are present in the urine.
A prolonged state of ketosis can cause major health problems like:
- Calcium deficiency
- Kidney stones
- Liver damage
Controversy Surrounding Ketosis and its Symptoms
Most people claim that going into ketosis and exhibiting its symptoms is no reason for alarm, and simply denotes a different and specific phase of metabolism that the body is going through. This is the main reason that people still strongly advocate going in for low-carb diets, and even go to the extent of claiming that certain organs function better during the state of ketosis. However, research says that ketone bodies are acidic compounds, and their accumulation in the blood could lead to toxicity. It is an aggravation of symptoms that lead to the potentially life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis.
Doing Away With Ketosis
The easiest way of reversing ketosis is by including carbohydrates in the diet. One has to make sure that they do not start consuming carbohydrates suddenly, but increase the intake gradually, after consulting a health professional. Eating smaller and frequent meals help mitigate the symptoms to a large extent. Another important thing is to keep the body hydrated to help dilute the urine and, in turn, flush out the ketone bodies.
To avoid conditions like ketosis and other medical complications, it is always advisable that you consult a health professional before making any extreme changes in your diet. He/she would best know what is suitable for you and guide you accordingly.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.