KETOSIS OR KETOACIDOSIS?

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I picked up a little booklet in the waiting room at the doctor’s office yesterday. It was an ad for the latest edition of Outsmart Diabetes 1-2-3 from the editors of Prevention Magazine. It contained a lot of info-mercial style teasers about all the wonderful secrets that will be revealed to those who buy the book, such as:

“Reverse the Rising Tide of Blood Sugar FAST!…Check out page 246…”

“…People who walk at least a certain distance every day are fully one-third less likely to have trouble sleeping!..See page 242 to learn just how far you have to walk…”

“Type 2 diabetes disappears in 78.8 percent of people who do THIS!…See page 294…..”

On page 9 of the booklet, there was a clue about what you can expect to find in Outsmart Diabetes. An article called, “Low Carbohydrate Diets Can Make You Sick!” contained the following advice from someone identified as, “an MD, PhD specialist in cardiology and nutrition.” Here is what Dr. Anonymous MD, PhD had to say: “Low-carb diets are dangerous because they put you in ketoacidosis (a serious condition that can lead to diabetic coma or even death).” His Advice? You need a “balanced diet,” which you can read about on page 249.

It’s not surprising that Dr. Anonymous MD, PhD didn’t give his name. He has mistaken ketosis for ketoacidosis. Perhaps he was napping during his classes on human metabolism. (Perhaps he should read page 242 so he can get more sleep.) Benign, dietary ketosis is not only harmless but it is a highly desirable state. It means the body is burning fat for fuel. Ketones are produced as a result of the breakdown of fat. The alternative to ketosis is burning sugar and storing fat, something most of us try to avoid. Keto-acid-osis is an entirely different thing.

Dr. Mary Vernon explains it this way: Benign, dietary ketosis occurs whenever the body is burning fat for energy in the presence of normal amounts of insulin; diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when insulin is low or absent, preventing the body from removing glucose (blood sugar) from the blood. Since the sugar is not available for use without insulin, the hormone glucacon is released to initiate fat burning to provide ketones for use as an alternate fuel. Unopposed glucacon promotes rampant fat burning and ketone production, while the lack of insulin keeps the glucose level in the blood elevated. Glucose and ketones together cause severe dehydration when they are excreted by the kidneys and water is lost along with them.

There may be some perfectly dandy tips in Out Smart Diabetes, 1-2-3, but if Dr. Anonymous is typical of their experts, I wouldn’t expect much help in out smarting anything, certainly not diabetes.

And the come-on about how type-2 diabetes disappears in 76.8% of people who do THIS? No doubt a promo for bariatric surgery. Aren’t we lucky to have the smart people from Prevention Magazine to keep us from doing anything foolish or dangerous? Like not eating sugar?

© 2010, Judy Barnes Baker; Carb Wars; Sugar Is The New Fat

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  1. "Perhaps he should read page 242 so he can get more sleep." ha ha ha ha ha ha! You're funny!

    Well I have prevented diabetes in myself by being a low carber (and not a super strict one either, though I try) My mom died at 55 and my maternal grandmother at 65 both from complications of diabetes. My own regular doctor is becoming a low carb fan because of watching me, year after year have low blood sugar (even though I tend to stay chunky..) All my bloodwork is fine, my only prob seems to be blood pressure, which went high immediately after an emergency hysterectomy. Not sure what to do about that, I AM trying to lose weight but not convinced that will actually help.

  2. It's really sad Judy. But eating properly lessens the needs for drugs, which probably funded that book in some manner.

  3. I see this confusion all over the place. The NY Time had an article the other day by a man whose 9-year-old son is on a strict "keto" diet to control his epileptic seizures. An interesting article overall, but he also warns: " This medical oversight lessens the worry that we are going to poison Sam with all the fat he eats. Children can fall into ketoacidosis — essentially overdoing keto. It’s rare, and easily reversible, but it can be fatal if you don’t know what to look for."

    Although one of the many commenters on the article did chide: "By the way, it is impossible for a non-diabetic to develop ketoacidosis from a ketogenic diet, no matter how much fat or how little carbohydrate. That is basic biochemistry."

    But yes, you see the ketosis/ketoacidosis confusion everywhere.

  4. Hey, hey, hey!
    Another great post!

  5. Thanks for your great post Judy! I guess a doctor who does not know the difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis is not a doctor I would trust with my health!

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