Our body needs a sufficient amount of carbohydrates for survival. When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down by the saliva in our mouth into sugars. These sugars activate the insulin in our body and are converted either into energy or are stored for later use. However, when our bodies do not receive sufficient carbohydrates, it is forced to burn fat and protein for energy sources. As the body burns the fat and proteins, waste products are produced called ketone bodies. These build up in our bloodstream and become very irritating toward our kidneys. In an attempt to remove the ketones from our bodies, our bodies use up a lot of water to get rid of these chemicals. One of the main ketone-like chemicals produced by the body is acetone, which causes dehydration, and thus, slower brain functioning. However, the slower brain functioning may be temporarily thrown off because we can actually achieve increased mental clarity when our body is burning off the fat.
General signs and symptoms of ketosis include general tiredness, sudden or gradual increase in weakness, confusion, dizziness, headaches, irritability, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, sleeping problems, and acidic/bad breath [acetone smell, aka nail polish remover].
Being in ketosis because of a low-carb diet is not dangerous. Ketoacidosis is dangerous. Ketoacidosis is dangerous for diabetics (especially in the case of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus) because of the high amounts of acid produced, because of an extremely high sugar level. Since the body of a diabetic either does not produce enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin, the blood sugar levels continue to rise, and the cells cannot use the sugar as it cannot be properly stored. Ketones are produced so that the body will survive. The main difference in ketosis and ketoacidosis is that with ketoacidosis, ketones are a result of the condition, but not the cause.
Whether or not you are actually in a state of ketosis can be checked through ketone test strips. These urine-testing strips, called Ketostix contain a chemical that will change colour if there is a presence of ketones in the urine. The colours can change from pink to purple or may not change colour at all. The box contains a scale with different colours and you can compare the change 15 minutes after urinating on the strip. Some people actually urinate on the strip. Others argue that you cannot urinate on the strip as the floow of urine washes away the chemical, and thus advise that you urinate into a jar and then dip the test strip in.
Ketone strips will not work if you leave them out in the open as the chemical is very sensitive to air. Strips will only change colour if there is more ketones in the blood than there is being used as fuel at that particular moment. Thus, if your body is using more of it as fuel than you are producing, your strip may not change colour. Moreover, if you have exercised a few hours prior to testing, your muscles would have used up a lot of the ketones so there would be know excess, thus your strip would not change colour. Strips may also not be fresh, or you may have had plenty of liquids prior to testing so your urine would be very diluted.
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x-posted to ___immaculate