Blood glucose concentrations are decreased during both exogenous and endogenous ketosis, although by different mechanisms. During endogenous ketosis, dietary carbohydrate deficit is the underlying cause of low blood glucose, along with reduced hepatic gluconeogenesis and increased ketone production (Cahill et al., 1966). With exogenous ketosis, carbohydrate stores are plentiful, yet ketones appear to lower blood glucose through limiting hepatic gluconeogenesis and increasing peripheral glucose uptake (Mikkelsen et al., 2015). One clinical use of the ketogenic diet is to improve blood glucose control, yet the elevated blood FFA may increase the risk of heart failure (Holloway et al., 2009). Thus, the ability of exogenous ketones to lower blood glucose without elevating blood FFA concentrations could deliver the desired effect of the diet, whilst also decreasing a potential risk.
Interestingly, poly-BOHB has recently been reported to have important roles in mammalian mitochondrial membranes, cell membrane calcium channels, and in exotic functions like protein folding (Dedkova 2014). It exists in a variety of chain lengths, ranging from short to very long. It is not clear if humans can digest and use poly-BOHB consumed in the diet, but in animals, poly-BOHB appears to have probiotic and bowel protective functions. This is a rapidly evolving topic that we will be watching closely.
Supplemental BHB’s are ideal for people new to the ketogenic way of eating. The changes that happen in your brain and body when adapting to a VLC diet are both immediate and profound. For example, our kidney’s start processing minerals salts much more efficiently. Ironically, after years of being advised to decrease our intake of salt (sodium), it turns out that for people transitioning away from the Standard American Diet (SAD diet) towards a lower carb or ketogenic diet there is actually a need to increase dietary mineral salts such as potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. During the process of becoming keto-adapted, it is very important to increase your intake of these essential minerals, in order to prevent the onset of unpleasant symptoms (known as “keto flu”).
Whereas ketone esters are 100% D- form, most ketone salts are a 50/50 mix of left and right-handed beta hydroxybutyrate, which is known as a racemic mixture. These beta hydroxybutyrate molecules are linked to a mineral, such sodium (Na), calcium (Ca), potassium (K), or magnesium (Mg). This kind of ketone supplement gets broken down to left and right-handed version of beta hydroxybutyrate along with the mineral.
BHB easily crosses the blood-brain barrier resulting in easily accessible energy to the brain and muscle tissues, becoming a source of energy after entering the mitochondria, being converted to Acetyl-CoA, and then ATP through the Krebs cycle (the same process that glucose goes through to become ATP). This ultimately results in many direct benefits, including:
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