Referred to as Diabetic Ketoacidosis, DKA is a potentially life-threatening state where you have very high levels of ketones in your body. This is usually driven by a lack of insulin.
Insulin brings glucose into our cells and without it, the body switches to ketones. In normal individuals or those with controlled diabetes, insulin acts to stop the overproduction of ketones. But without this feedback, dangerous levels of ketones build up, acidifying the body. Someone suffering ketoacidosis would have a ketone meter reading of around 20mmol/l. This is more than triple the amount experienced with nutritional ketosis.
This high volume of ketone bodies is quick to overpower the delicate blood pH levels – making it more acidic than normal. You then get a low blood pH, a condition called acidosis. Symptoms of acidosis include nausea, hyperventilation, dehydration and low blood pressure. This happens as the body attempts to get rid of the abnormal amounts of ketones through the lungs and urine.
Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body uses ketones as a fuel source. Normal individuals produce the necessary amount of insulin to keep blood sugar levels healthy. This ultimately keeps ketone production levels in the safe range.
How do you reach nutritional ketosis? When your body becomes depleted of carbohydrates to burn, it switches to burning stored fat instead. Your liver then begins to generate ketone bodies, shifting you into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketones bodies are generated from the breakdown of fat and used as fuel.
Best of all, studies show that the body and brain actually prefer using ketones, being able to run 70% more efficiently than glucose.
Here’s a guide:
|After a meal||0.1 mmol/L|
|Overnight fast||0.3 mmol/L|
|Ketogenic Diet (nutritional ketosis)||1 – 8 mmol/L|
|More than 20 days fasting||10 mmol/L|
|Ketoacidosis (uncontrolled diabetes)||More than 20 mmol/L|