Ketosis is characterized by high levels of ketones in the blood. This write-up explains how this condition affects the body.
Ketones are compounds that are formed as a result of the breakdown of stored body fat. Though these compounds are always present in the body, elevated levels of ketone bodies can cause health problems. The state of elevated levels of ketones in blood is medically referred to as ketosis.
What Causes Ketosis
This state is generally viewed as a crisis reaction that occurs when the glycogen stores in the liver run out. As a result, the liver uses the process of fat metabolism for generating energy, instead of glucose, which is the preferred form of energy for the cells present in the body. When the body is in this state, it switches over to stored body fat and dietary fat sources. The body starts breaking down fat for energy, thereby generating energy in the form of ATP along with molecules called ketones. This generally occurs when people follow a ketogenic diet for losing weight.
Ketogenic diet is another name for a high fat, low carb diet. When people turn to fad diets in order to lose weight, the body detects the lack of blood glucose and after 48 hours, the liver starts burning fat to produce energy. Since the body switches from a high carbohydrate diet to a low carbohydrate diet, the fat stores become the primary energy source and the body burns fat and that results in weight loss. Though such diets help one to lose weight, the dieters are most likely to experience certain symptoms.
When the levels of ketone bodies increase, the dieter might experience fatigue, headaches, nausea, dizziness, metallic taste in mouth, and bad breath. The high levels of ketone bodies are likely to raise the pH of the blood. The body tries to bring the pH level down by getting rid of these ketones through lungs, and this results in bad breath. These ketones are also excreted through urine. Since most of the low carb diets are diuretic in nature, these also result in dehydration and the person might feel thirsty all the time. Other symptoms that might be experienced by the dieter include stomach aches, abdominal pain, or sleeping problems.
The level of ketones in the urine can be determined with the help of ketone test strips. When the strip changes color, it indicates elevated levels of ketone bodies. Though many people resort to a high protein and low carbohydrate diet in order to lose weight, there is some debate about the long-term side effects of such a diet. Some research studies suggest that elevated levels of ketones might lead to some health problems. It is believed that diabetics who follow such a diet might be at a risk of developing a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketosis has also been linked to elevated levels of a certain chemical substance known as methylglyoxal, which can cause damage to blood vessels.
Other side effects that might be linked to elevated ketone levels include strain on the kidneys, kidney, osteoporosis, heart palpitation, gout, and calcium deficiency. However, there isn’t evidence to link these side effects to ketogenic diets. For those who are following such a diet, certain precautionary measures can help in alleviating the symptoms to some extent. Increasing the intake of water, vitamins, and minerals has been found to be helpful. In case the symptoms persist, you can consult a doctor or nutritionist regarding the inclusion of carbohydrates to your diet.
If you have been following a low carb diet and experiencing some of the aforementioned symptoms, it would be best to conduct a ketone test. If the level of ketone bodies is very high, abandon the diet plan and consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.