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Friday, May 29, 2015

What are ketones?

One of our patrons had heard about ketones in relation to diabetes but wasn’t sure what exactly they were. We weren’t sure either, and while we’re not a substitute for the doctor’s office, we were able to look up some information with the resources available at the library.

Mosby’s Medical Dictionary was the first place we checked. It defines a ketone as a kind of organic chemical produced by “oxidation of secondary alcohols” and then went on to describe its structure. The Diabetes Sourcebook more accessibly defines ketones as “chemical[s] produced where there is a shortage in insulin in the blood and the body breaks down fat for energy.” An excess of ketones in the body can cause ketoacidosis, a dangerous and potentially fatal condition.

The American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes provides more information on ketoacidosis. While it can happen at any time, it’s more likely to occur in times of stress, including sickness and pregnancy. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fruity-smelling breath, and rapid breathing. Ketoacidosis is more of a problem for people with type 1 diabetes, who don’t produce insulin on their own, though it can also affect people with type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, there are tests that can be done at home to check for ketones.

We have several books on diabetes available for borrowing, such as Chris Smith’s Cooking with the Diabetic Chef, Theresa Garnero’s Your First Year with Diabetes, and The New Family Cookbook for People with Diabetes

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