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What effects do Ketones have on the Sympathetic/Parasympathetic Nervous System?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 11, 2012 at 1:52 PM

I've read on here that carbs are supposedly parasympathetic, i.e. "calming" I've yet to see any evidence for this. The only way in which I can see how a carbohydrate would be "calming" is if you're spiking your blood sugar and then experiencing a carb burnout after you crash. Why would ketones cause you to be in a sympathetic state? Calcium puts you in a more sympathetic state, so it's possible certain nutrients/metabolic byproducts cause a shift in your neuro-related stuff.

I've also seen people on here who claim that low-carb gives them anxiety.

In case you don't remember from high school biology:

-Parasympathetic = Rest & Digest.

-Sympathetic = Fight or Flight. However, being in a chronic sympathetic state = anxiety attacks and feeling tired.

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on February 26, 2013
at 07:04 AM

Yes. I must say that in my own experience, and apparently a lot ofther's aswell, the opposite seems to be the case. Also given that it requires more energy to produce the ketones it would make sense if EE is increased.

9712e4ce885436e557751cfa6ffedd5a

(488)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:50 PM

At least in mice...

9712e4ce885436e557751cfa6ffedd5a

(488)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:48 PM

Yes, if I understood the paper correctly, it seems that ketones depress the sympathetic nervous system and lead to less catacholamines being released which depresses metabolism.

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:00 PM

So ketones downregulate metabolism. Did I get that right?

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on October 14, 2012
at 03:55 PM

Not necessarily noticeable, but it WILL cause your sympathetic to be more active than your parasympathetic. And yes, all of that stuff will happen but to a smaller degree than if you were being chased by a lion or something.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 11, 2012
at 09:05 PM

Interesting. So if I go drink a glass of milk I will have noticeable sympathetic reaction? Eyes will dilate, pulse will rise, blood will be diverted from my internal organs to my musculoskeletal system?

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on October 11, 2012
at 05:54 PM

Eh, not necessarily. Any food that's high in calcium, will cause a "spike" in the sympathetic NS. This includes dairy (not "paleo), most nuts and even fish (although some fish have enough magnesium to balance out the calcium.)

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on October 11, 2012
at 04:57 PM

Same for me, but some people describe the opposite, which has always eluded me.

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5 Answers

2
B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on October 11, 2012
at 04:40 PM

Speaking as a diabetic, I remember the moment of absolute perfect lucidity when I first got my BG levels under control (by low-carbing). It was almost spiritual, as the cloud of glucose induced anxiety that I'd been unknowingly under for a couple of years lifted.

I can tell when I'm in ketosis, because I'm calmer, more lucid, better focused, and less aggressive.

n=1 and all that.

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on October 11, 2012
at 04:57 PM

Same for me, but some people describe the opposite, which has always eluded me.

1
9712e4ce885436e557751cfa6ffedd5a

(488)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:32 AM

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/04/21/1016088108.full.pdf

Seems ketones directly regulate sympathetic nervous system activity.

9712e4ce885436e557751cfa6ffedd5a

(488)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:50 PM

At least in mice...

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:00 PM

So ketones downregulate metabolism. Did I get that right?

9712e4ce885436e557751cfa6ffedd5a

(488)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:48 PM

Yes, if I understood the paper correctly, it seems that ketones depress the sympathetic nervous system and lead to less catacholamines being released which depresses metabolism.

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on February 26, 2013
at 07:04 AM

Yes. I must say that in my own experience, and apparently a lot ofther's aswell, the opposite seems to be the case. Also given that it requires more energy to produce the ketones it would make sense if EE is increased.

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 11, 2012
at 05:13 PM

I would assume all paleo foods to be primarily parasympathetic....they all need to access digestion. In addition chronic sympathetic (stress) increases the allostatic load.

"This notion can be applied to other physiological mediators, such as the secretion of cortisol as well as catecholamines, and the concept of "allostatic load" was proposed to refer to the wear and tear that the body experiences due to repeated cycles of allostasis as well as the inefficient turning-on or shutting off of these responses. " http://www.macses.ucsf.edu/research/allostatic/allostatic.php

The misconceptions about ketosis being stressful are in part to the release of cortisol used for gluconeogenesis. But, they ignore that this does not always occur and glucogon suffices for activating the process.

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on October 11, 2012
at 05:54 PM

Eh, not necessarily. Any food that's high in calcium, will cause a "spike" in the sympathetic NS. This includes dairy (not "paleo), most nuts and even fish (although some fish have enough magnesium to balance out the calcium.)

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 11, 2012
at 09:05 PM

Interesting. So if I go drink a glass of milk I will have noticeable sympathetic reaction? Eyes will dilate, pulse will rise, blood will be diverted from my internal organs to my musculoskeletal system?

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on October 14, 2012
at 03:55 PM

Not necessarily noticeable, but it WILL cause your sympathetic to be more active than your parasympathetic. And yes, all of that stuff will happen but to a smaller degree than if you were being chased by a lion or something.

0
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on October 11, 2012
at 03:51 PM

It doesn't make any sense to me either, but then, neither does the idea that bumping up serotonin is a good solution for depression. I remember someone once recommending a potato in the afternoon in order to spike serotonin levels- based, of course, on the silly theory that this is somehow good for you. It is already pretty obvious that the number of receptors changes over time in order to deal with the higher levels of serotonin, so the SSRI peddlers are only doing one thing well- creating a group of brain damaged people who, if they take it long enough, need the pills they are pushing just to feel normal.

Ketones, as long as they are in adequate supply, keep everything steady. Just the blood sugar rise and fall alone is enough to make one get all fight or flighty. My guess would be that they help us stay in the closest thing to a neutral state as we can get- so, if there is an emergency we can respond quickly, and if it is time to go to sleep, we can fall asleep quickly.

I don't know whether or not what you have read about carbs being calming relates to serotonin, but this is my best guess as to why someone might come to that conclusion.

0
7bab99c303f1e83d3d9722a414dd7b45

(524)

on October 11, 2012
at 03:40 PM

Well, interesting question... my first thought is that some carbs are rich in say, tryptophan, which is a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel calm, sedate, "good".

I have definitely experienced anxiety relief in the past after eating meals with sweet potatoes, or bananas, or cashews for example. But that's as a sugar-burner.

Perhaps things shift when the body is fat-adapted? Hmm, I don't know.

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