Potential simple explanation as to why a keto diet is anti-oxidation

Discussion in 'Diet and Improving Your Gut' started by dejurgen, Oct 27, 2018.

  1. dejurgen

    dejurgen Well-Known Member

    There has been much speculation on why a keto diet may work for many patients. I may just have stumbled onto a simple and logical explanation.

    Some say ketones increase the expression of anti-oxidant producing genes, but I have yet to see a clear and detailed overview of what mechanism exactly is at work. It's clear however that something like that very likely must exist as there are strong indications that a ketogenic diet is poor at producing NADPH, our main source to recycle the oh-so important glutathione.

    A common argument is that a ketogenic diet stabilizes blood sugar. I however am far from convinced here. It does lower blood sugar a lot for sure, but it probably has a low baseline with *very* low dips at night and after exercising. I don't call that stable at all. It does avoid the high sugar peaks very well, but the deep dips are probably not that good either. IMO a good regular diet aimed at reducing sugar peaks should be close in performance here. It may lack a bit in reducing the peaks, but it should definitely win in providing for example the RBC with energy at night.

    Previously I thought about ketones ability to form meta-stable chemicals when combined with hydrogen peroxide. But many of these chemicals are nasty ones and they only temporary bind the peroxide. At a later stage they decompose again in the ketones and peroxide that formed them. So these compounds can only transport the peroxide away from regions with too high amounts of oxidative stress to places with lower oxidative stress. One can only hope then that distributing that oxidative load causes less trouble.

    Another angle I saw is that a ketogenic diet provides more medium and short chain fatty acids that can to some extend cross the brain blood barrier. This should be helpful because the brain has a better supply of fats and does not need to produce fats itself from carbohydrates. That process consumes plenty of NADPH and hence puts a considerable amount of oxidative stress on the brain. But again, one on a regular diet should be able to obtain part of these results by incorporating cocos oil for MCFA and buteric acid for SCFA. So all potential explanations still feel somewhat unsatisfying to me.

    So here is the idea:
    Buteric acid plus hydrogen peroxide can be converted without enzymes and at room temperature to acetone (a ketone) in reasonable amounts.

    Searching for something else I stumbled upon two very old publications:​

    I did not read the entire paper as it's costing too much energy now but the main points I believe they made are:​
    • They explicitly looked for simple chemical reactions such that could be occurring without much aid into the body if I understand correct.​
    • Page with number 80 (4th page) of the first paper has a nice depiction of "the oxidation of butyric acid with hydrogen peroxide". Acetone is one of the chemicals produced.​
    • Page with number 128 (6th page) shows that ammonium, a common and poisonous byproduct of amino acid consumption, acts as a catalyst speeding up the reaction of converting butyric acid plus hydrogen peroxide to (among others) acetone (a ketone) a lot.​
    My preliminary conclusions:​
    • As it seems to involve basic chemistry requiring no extreme conditions like boiling in concentrated sulfuric acid for days but rather happens with mild common ingredients at room temperature I believe these reactions should happen in the body too.​
    • Possibly there are more catalysts, enzymes... in the body speeding up the process and increasing the amount of peroxide scavenged *and* destroyed.​
    • This is a very strong indication that the production of ketones from fatty acids involves chemical reactions that do consume hydrogen peroxide if present.
    • There may be similar pathways for other ketones and fatty acids than the ones studied in the publications.​
    • All in all, this and similar processes may be a very large source of anti oxidant activity competing with or surpassing the total bodies uric acid anti oxidant and the glutathione anti oxidant capacity.​
    • As the formation of ketones is believed to be (almost?) exclusively happening in the liver then the liver would be the source of this anti oxidative action, not the brain. But as the entire blood stream passes frequently through the liver, this mechanism would have a profound effect on oxidative stress levels throughout the body.​
    • Ketones ability to temporarily bind peroxide could help inactivating the peroxide until it reaches the liver.​
    As always, please add comments on this idea or point to errors or information missed.
  2. Another simple explanation could be that to get into ketosis, and this does not have to be extreme, you reduce your carb and sugar intake to more 'normal' levels that our body can handle. Excess carbs cause oxidative stress, and thus by lowering carb intake you can lower oxidative stress.

    The modern Western diet is often so far removed from common sense in terms of the sheer volume of carbs consumed that eating 100-150 grams even seems 'low carb'. Our DNA has not evolved to be able to handle the extreme amounts of carbs with subsequent health impacts like glycation of cells, insulin spikes, oxidative stress, systemic inflammation.

    Nutritional ketosis, i.e. between 0.5-3 mmol/L, which is far from the scary extreme stories you sometimes read about ketogenic diets, would be something to at least consider.
    CJB likes this.
  3. Remy

    Remy Administrator

    The blood sugar "dips" are irrelevant so long as there are adequate ketones available. It's a very steady energy with no noticeable ups and downs.

    There are a lot of reasons that a ketogenic diet is helpful...it offers a workaround for the potential PDH block, it is anti-inflammatory, it shifts the gut microbiome to species more favorable for health among many others. It's deeply stabilizing to the brain by promoting the conversion of GABA.
    PrimalPancreas and CJB like this.
  4. I forgot to reply to this, but Remy's comment reminded me. Have you tried it yourself, which let you to not being convinced? How hardcore did you go in low carb? What were you ketone and blood glucose levels? I did a lot of experimenting on myself and not only did it help with high peaks, but also in eliminating hypoglycemic episodes (day and nightly panic attack versions), not to mention all the other myriad of healing results. It 100% helped stabilize my blood sugar levels, and if you read the amount of diabetics and pre-diabetics that are having success with nutritional ketosis you can see how potent it is.

    It is how most of our ancestors lived, even as early as a few generations ago.

    Your liver will either produce cholesterol as a vehicle to store excess energy (hence the high triglyceride levels of people eating excess carbs) or utilize internal energy stores (adipose fat) by producing ketones. Insulin and glucagon hormones from the pancreas will stop ketone production as the body realizes it needs to first burn off or store the available glucose in the blood. It is also why intermittent fasting, or eating all your calories during a limited (e.g. 10-12 hours) window during the day will help get you into nutritional ketosis.

    Becoming an efficient 'fat burner' instead of an addicted 'sugar burner' is something I can highly recommend to anyone that is healthy and trying to avoid getting ill or for longevity, and for those of us that are struggling. The, initially stealth but accelerated over time, damage excess glucose and insulin spikes do to the body is not to be underestimated.

    One important factor is that many people tend go to the extreme, which is not sustainable. Ease into it. Keep within a 0.5-3 mmol/L ketone level and determine what that equivalent level of carbs is for your own body. But, 50-100 grams of carbs (not including non-starchy veggies) and limiting the daily calorie window, which is far from extreme, can get you there. Once you are at your ideal body composition, you might even be able to go up a bit depending on your physical activity level. Anything over 150 grams per day, unless you are some type of athlete, and you get back into unhealthy territory again.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
  5. dejurgen

    dejurgen Well-Known Member

    I see your point, but wouldn't go that far.
    Even in ketosis, your brain (mitochondria) consumes both ketones and glucose (and fats and proteins...). The body does produce glucose from fat for a reason and it seems it might produce more then simply stripping the easy parts of fat and protein for glucose production IMO.

    So I would replace irrelevant by less relevant.
  6. dejurgen

    dejurgen Well-Known Member

    I have tried a ketogenic diet, but I now think I didn't reach ketosis. I did go with low enough carbs but went very high in fats and quite high in proteins. The latter can keep people out of ketosis.

    The reason I did not retry since is that I did found an alternative that works for me. As long as I keep finding alternatives that slowly improves my health whilst having minimal side effects, I stay away from more drastic changes that help many people well but cause disaster to a minority of patients. In the end, it'll help better understand why both my route as well as the route not taken can help some patients. I'll consider that a positive :).

    So I'm not against ketognic diets, I just prefer alternatives that allow for less drastic changes.