Over the years I have been asked several times to discuss ketones (as in ketone bodies), ketosis, and the measurement of ketones or the level of ketosis. The word “ketone” is commonly misunderstood by the public and often misused by commercial interests. In this article I hope to dispel some myths and correct some mistaken ideas, not only in terms of what ketones are but also how we can measure them in our body and what information each measuring method may reveal.
What Are Ketones?
In the above image, which I copied from an academic article over a year ago (no longer remember which one), you can see that there are three types of ketone bodies. These three types are measurable and are the most understood by today’s science.
The picture should be read by starting in the middle top, where you can see “Fatty Acids” that are converted to Acetyl CoA, which then magically appear as Acetoacetate. This process is complex, and I won’t cover it here. Nevertheless, it took us to the first ketone body: Acetoacetate. To the left and right you can see two other ketone bodies, and arrows indicating the direction of the conversion. So, Acetoacetate can convert to Acetone in one direction (to the right), meaning that Acetone cannot convert back into Acetoacetate. Once it is Acetone, that’s it. And if you look in the other direction (left side), you see 3-B-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) with a double arrow, meaning that when Acetoacetate converts to BHB, it is possible for BHB to convert back into Acetoacetate. This will become important!
I ask this question and provide answers in my latest blog article at Hormones Matter. Below a very much shortened version. I hope you read the full article to understand the full concept.
…While we all recognize drugs and alcohol as addictive substances, today, one of the most common addictions is to food, specifically to carbohydrates. Yes, carbohydrates. What is a carbohydrate? It is basically a sugar such as glucose, fructose, and starch. I am sure by now you have heard the news that sugar is addictive, but do you know that there are many foods that are high in carbohydrates that don’t taste sweet at all? For example bread, rice, potatoes, legumes, etc., are full of sugar without tasting sweet. In these foods the sugar is in the form of starches, which are long chains of glucose molecules, but since we lack enzymes that can break these long chains into individual glucose molecules, we don’t taste their sweetness. Yet they are full of addictive sugar…
When I started my doctoral dissertation and the associated research, I was absolutely full of love toward what I was doing. I worked on understanding how specific hormones in the brain (neuropeptides) modify human decision-making. I ran clinical trials and published several articles. Here is chapter 2 of my dissertation published in PLOS One. It is one of their top papers in terms of citations. Great stuff! But then the troubles start. You get your PhD and you are on your own.
An amazing statement at the end of the abstract of this article (open access article):
“The main areas of serotonin research provide no consistent evidence of there being an association between serotonin and depression, and no support for the hypothesis that depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity or concentrations.”
And, to make it worse, look at this last sentence:
“Some evidence was consistent with the possibility that long-term antidepressant use reduces serotonin concentration.”
Meaning that when you supplement serotonin, your brain starts making less! This achieves the exact opposite results from what is desired, and this explains why so many people end up taking multiple serotonin medications for depression, which can lead to serotonin syndrome, a killer that killed my mother!
Importantly, migraineurs often end up being placed on antidepressants under the pretense that migraine too is a serotonin deficiency, just like depression. But we know that migraine not a serotonin deficiency. Migraine is a genetic condition caused by various conditions that initiate an electrolyte imbalance and the brain simply ends up running low on salt. The Stanton Migraine Protocol(R) works perfectly for migraine reduction and prevention without the use of any medications.
In fact, since we now understand that if antidepressants are prescribed, the end result is having less serotonin in the brain than what was there before! So what serotonin supplementation achieves is less serotonin made by the brain! The exact opposite of what is intended.
I have been a member of Quora for many years. I get “request for answer” from many Quora subscribers every single day and about 90% of the requests are associated with migraines, asking pretty much the same questions. Of course, I am requested for the answer since I am a migraine specialist! Now… the problem is that every time I get basically the same questions (3-5 times a day), I provide the same answers with the same links. I created a “form answer” of sorts that answers the same questions all the time, with links to my talks, papers, etc.
Apparently Quora wants responses to provide different links to the same questions! Does that make any sense to you? Not to me! I think it is stupid! You’d think it is only the algorithm, right? Nope! The person responding to me said the same thing: we want different links and answers to the same questions. Yep! Quora for you! The only reason I haven’t yet given up on their stupidity is because I feel sorry for the members who are asking honest questions. If I can help them, I feel I should. But there is a limit.
I decided to post all my Quora answers here and also on some of my other blogs, and once in a while I will link here, sometimes to other blogs, and sometimes provide the full info on Quora. All will still contain the same information though… lol.. This is my last effort on Quora. If I fail in this, I just drop them like a cold stone. I don’t need them at all! And I hope the people looking for help with their migraines will find me through other platforms.
Below, those with migraines will find all the answers they need to learn how to abort and prevent their migraines without any medicine.
What is a Migraine & How to Prevent it
Migraine is preventable. Migraine is a genetic condition, which sets up an extreme sensitivity to carbohydrates and a need for much higher sodium content of the electrolyte than typical. The solution to this sensitivity is that if you stop consuming carbohydrates and increase salt and water, you can prevent migraines.
Migraine is caused by an electrolyte imbalance as a result of the over-activity of the sensory neurons. In a migraineur’s brain, the sensory neurons have much more connections than the same neurons in a typical non-migraine brain. This is why migraineurs tend to be overstimulated by strong bright lights, strong odors, loud sounds, more sensitive to touch, and some (like me) also are super-tasters, so more sensitive to spices. More connections mean more “chatter” and so a healthy myelin system is essential. Because of the hyper-reaction of the brain to sensory stimulus, it generates more voltage—voltage is communication in the brain—and that extra voltage uses more sodium. Migraineurs need more salt in their diet to counter this effect. Migraineurs are also glucose sensitive (carbs intolerant) because glucose removes sodium and water from cells—therefore, carbs reduce sodium even more, causing a migraine.
3 lecture hours on migraine plus an hour of personal interview. These classes are for healthcare providers, and offer continuing education credit: https://nutrition-network.org/neurology/ This class requires payment to the organization of Nutrition Network.
We often discuss what foods we should be eating based on macronutrient contents, such as protein, fat, and carbohydrate. We also discuss that potassium and sodium should be in a particular ratio, but we seldom if ever discuss foods in terms of their micronutrients.
The paper “Priority micronutrient density in foods” by Ty Beal and Flaminia Ortezi (see: DOI: https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-701840/v2) focuses on certain micronutrients and generated various graphs and tables, of which I include here a couple and explain what they mean and how to understand them. The nutrients they were looking at were iron, zinc, folate (B9), vitamin A, calcium, and cobalamin (B12).
What these scientists did was look at these micronutrients from the perspective of how many calories worth of a particular food you would have to consume to get 1/3rd or 1/6th of the RDA, which they named here as AR, meaning average requirements. Of course, this article is limited within those micronutrients of interest to them, so this paper doesn’t contain potassium or sodium or selenium, and others nutrients, for example. With all its limitation, I think it provides a great understanding of what foods to eat most and why, and it also points out if there is a fallacy in the plant-based climate saving plan.
The Myth of the Mediterranean Diet goes back to Ancel Keys, who decided that the meals served in Greece during Lent was THE ideal diet. Yep, it’s stupid, but it took off and now people believe it. How does the saying go? If enough people repeat something that never happened, it will become the truth and the law.
While most of the interviews I am asked for are about migraine, every now and then the discussion moves to other interesting areas. This podcast is about protein: what kind of protein, how much, age differences, and the many caveats of a healthy life by a high animal-protein diet. Why animal protein? Because the only plant protein that is complete in all amino acids is soy, which is full of goitrogens that kill the thyroid, and estrogen, which creates man-boobs. Because plant-proteins are incomplete, to start protein synthesis, you need to mix and match many plants that in sum will provide the right amino acids. To do this, you need to have a professional dietitian guide you. Animal proteins are always complete so you can just sit down and eat without any planning A winning strategy as far as I am concerned.
The link to the interview is here. Enjoy and ask questions!
Comments are welcome, as always, and are moderated for appropriateness.