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What Is the Difference between Ketosis and Acidosis?

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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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Ketosis and acidosis are conditions that often occur together in the human body, but their terms usually describe very different circumstances and symptoms. More often than not, the difference between ketosis and acidosis lies in their timing and symptoms, as they both seem to occur simultaneously due to dietary factors. The term ketosis is often used to describe the body when it enters a state of burning fatty acids for energy, instead of carbohydrates and glycogen stores. When prolonged ketosis occurs within the human body, often due to starvation or a low-carbohydrate diet, a buildup of acids in the body can result, causing acidosis.

The main difference between ketosis and acidosis is found in their different symptoms and metabolic pathways; however, both conditions normally occur in the body together. When the body undergoes starvation, excess carbohydrate stores are usually burned as the first source of energy. After these carbohydrate stores are depleted, the body undergoes ketosis, a condition in which fatty acid stores are burned for energy. Ketosis often occurs after a prolonged fast from carbohydrate foods, mainly in the form of a low carbohydrate diet, which generally results with a temporary loss in weight.

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Acidosis is a condition that generally occurs directly after ketosis, as long as starvation or carbohydrate restriction is prolonged. When an excess of fatty acids are burned for fuel, acids are produced within the human body and can build up. This mainly results when the pH of the body falls below a certain level, and it can cause damage to the body over time if carbohydrate stores are not adequately supplied. Although ketosis generally does not result in damage to internal organs, the resulting acidosis can damage kidneys and other adjacent organs.

Another main difference between ketosis and acidosis is the reversal aspect of both conditions, as both ketosis and acidosis generally require different healing times. Ketosis often stops and reverses itself after consuming food energy in the form of carbohydrates, mainly found in fruits, vegetables and an assortment of grains. The reversal time for acidosis often takes much longer, as the buildup of acids must decrease over a specified period, depending on the person and the situation. If damage to the kidneys or other organs results, it may take much longer to recover and reverse the condition.

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