The Benefits of Ketosis
Ketone production (ketosis) happens when the body burns fat instead of glucose. When the body goes into ketosis, it is being fueled by ketone bodies — molecules the liver produces from fatty acids – instead of glucose, which requires insulin.
While the weight loss resulting from ketosis is life-altering for many, the most important benefit of the fat burning system is that it triggers autophagy (Greek for “self-eating”), which eliminates dead and damaged mitochondria, and supports the formation of healthy new mitochondria. (As discussed in an earlier blog, high-functioning mitochondria — the body’s “fuel factories” — are essential for brain and body health and repair.)
Autophagy is the garbage collection service inside the cells, the process by which cellular waste is broken down and recycled to harvest amino acids, the building blocks of new cells. When the system goes awry, it’s like a city where the garbage collectors are on strike. First, garbage accumulates in the kitchen, then in the bins on the street, and eventually in the street itself.
The human body evolved to store fat. Our ancestors had to eat when they could and then fasted until the next lucky catch or seasonal harvest of fruit. When food was scarce, they survived because of the body’s ability to burn stored fat. Nowadays, our body can’t make the switch to fat burning if we continually feed it grains and sugars, which keep the insulin system going.