Beta Hydroxybutyrate is an organic compound, also considered a beta hydroxyl acid with the formula CH3CH(OH)CH2CO2H. What that means is that it has a carboxylic (containing amino acids, which are proteins, and acetic acids, which are in vinegar and address the body’s metabolism) functional group. A functional group is just the name for the specific groups of atoms that in turn form molecules. These molecules are responsible for the chemical reactions within the compounds.
Beta Hydroxybutyrate is formed in an apparently random state throughout nature, though in humans it’s synthesized in the liver. It’s formed from the compound acetoacetate, which is the first ketone a body produces through fasting. It’s catalyzed by beta hydroxbutyrate dehydrogenase.
beta-hydroxbutyrate dehydrogenase is an enzyme in the family of oxidoreductases, which is a major component in the forming and digesting of various ketone bodies and the metabolism.
An increase in Beta Hydroxybutyrate has been found to help people suffering a variety of ailments such as: depression, anxiety, epilepsy, and cognitive impairment. In each of these cases increasing the Beta Hydroxybutyrate levels there has been marked changes in the patients. Especially In epilepsy patients with increased levels have shown to have the best level of control over their seizures.
The level of Beta Hydroxybutyrate in a body depends on several factors, and can be increased using any of them. The most effective method is the “Ketogenic diet”.
The Ketogenic diet is similar to the “atkins” or otherwise low-carb diets. But instead of limiting carbs, this diet all but cuts them out. The average ketogenic diet participant consumes less than 10g of carbohydrates a day, and absolutely no sugar. It puts the body into ketogenesis, which when properly regulated, uses ketones to fuel the body. The ketones are formed through the breakdown of fatty acids, usually resulting in weight loss.
This works because in the absence of glucose, the Beta Hydroxybutyrate is able to cross blood cells and enter the brain to convince it to use ketones as a source of energy instead of sugar and carbs. As long as the blood glucose level stays low, it will continue to use ketones as the energy source. This makes it an idea diet for those suffering from diabetes as well as the other mental and physical ailments already listed above. But people with diabetes should stay aware of the risks, one of the complications that can come from an overly ketogenic diet is called “Diabetic ketoacidosis”.
Diabetic Ketoacidiosis is a potentially life threatening complication, while it is most common in people with type 1 diabetes, it’s important to stay aware of what the body is doing and what the symptoms are. (Vomiting, deep gasping, abdominal pain, breathing, weakness, confusion, increased urination, and sometimes sudden loss of consciousness).
Beta Hydroxybutyrate levels in the body can be increased in ways other than just the full-scale ketogenic diet. Fasting and starvation, which is to say strictly controlling caloric intake, exercise, are the best examples of intentional increases.
It is also possible for Beta Hydroxybutyrate levels to increase in the body in ways that are not expected, not intentional, and not safe. Excessive and prolonged alcohol use can break down the liver and cause ketogenesis. The difference being, unintentional and unchecked ketogenesis is unstable, and unsafe.