In a recent mailer, I referred to the term – “glucotoxicity” and left it at that, without offering any further explanation. Literally, it would mean – the damage (or extent thereof) arising out of the poisonous effect/s of glucose (breakdown). Surely, in times to come, we all will hear a lot of this term, at least I hope that we do. And I do hope that after reading this post, you will take it more seriously and think about how much of it you are willing to tolerate.

Glycolysis, the breakdown of glucose, for conversion to ATP (adenosine-tri-phosphate) takes place in the cell cytosol (fluid within) & partly within the cell mitochondria. The process of the actual breakdown & conversion to newer substances creates by-products which are toxic (poisonous). Yes, you read it right. Glycolysis results in the formation of a glucotoxic substance known as methylglyoxal (hereinafter MG).

That MG is toxic is a non issue. Everyone agrees on that. MG can find its way into the body through many sources. MG in the body exists within cells (as above) and in blood circulation. MG in serum (blood) is tolerable to certain extent, as is the case with most toxins. It’s the intracellular MG that we are concerned with here. That is the problem.

A recent study showed the directly proportionate link between levels of blood glucose & MG. This was not an observational or associative study, but relied on direct measurements of the stuff to propose the relationship. So in other words it proved that if your blood glucose levels were higher, your MG levels were higher as well. Diabetics, are you listening ? It also found that levels of MG were much higher in Type 1s than that of T2s. Probably poor control & roller coaster fluctuations were at the root of this observation.

The way I see it, the best inference to be drawn from this is that using medication or artificial methods to control BG may give us the good numbers & “control” but it is the dependence on glucose that still remains the problem. Sure enough, anyone relying on glucose for energy is making a lot of MG & that is bad news.

Non diabetics, where do you see the harm in this approach for yourself. Your systems are the same as ours. Metabolize a lot less glucose & save yourself from the harmful effects of MG, and who knows what else. We should all be thankful that an alternate energy system does exist, which has none of these terrible side effects. Yes, KETOSIS, where ketones are consumed for energy from fatty acids.

Almost 95% of the body cells can rely on ketones and are quite happy making that switch. The other 5% (RBC, some nerve & brain cells) can find their glucose from many sources other than carbs. The liver is very happy doing that service for them. So keep a close watch on your glucose throughput – the sum total of glucose being used up within the body. Make ketosis your dietary focus.         


  1. Addendum.
    The Scripps Research Institute has reported from a study - a new type of protein modification within cells (including the nucleus) during Glucose metabolism. They found a small molecule known as 1,3 BPG (biphosphoglycerate)makes these changes to proteins to modify their structure and function - processes that contribute to the synthesis of new molecules and even cell proliferation.

    That last bit really scares me.

  2. Hi Shyam,

    My name is Madhavan I am 40 years old from minneapolis, MN. lately I was diagnosed as type 2 diabetic. Could you please suggest me ketogenic meal plan for both veg and Non- veg.

    1. Could you write to me at I'll respond to your specific questions directly. Thanks