Physicists proved for the first time that the concentration of acetone in the breath is an appropriate sign of fat burning during physical activities. Their research on the walkers who took part in the international four-day parade in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, showed that there were differences between healthy walkers and diabetes patients.
Physicists at Radboud University Nijmegen proved for the first time that the concentration of acetone in the breath is an appropriate sign of fat burning in sports activities. Their research on the walkers who took part in the international four-day parade in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, showed that there were differences between healthy walkers and diabetes patients.
“When we exercise, our bodies first use sugar in food as a source of energy,” explained Simone Christescu, a physicist at Nemergen University and the head of the research project. “If the body of a healthy person does not have enough sugar, it will burn fat to obtain the necessary energy.” For patients with diabetes, the availability of insulin (type 1) or insulin sensitivity (type 2) determines the production, storage and use of energy. During fat oxidation, ketone and other decomposition products will be produced, which can be found in urine and exhaled gas (i.e. acetone). In the case of high intensity or long time exercise, their excessive production will cause blood acidification, which is harmful. The concentration of acetone in a person’s breath has proved to be a good indicator of the rate of fat burning while maintaining health.
The 51 walkers participating in the international four-day parade were required to breathe into a 1-liter balloon twice a day before the start and end of the parade. The mass spectrometer developed by the Trace Gas Facility laboratory of Radboud University Nijmegen was used to detect the concentration of acetone in the breath within 8 hours after it was collected. This mass spectrometer can detect trace gases even in 100 billion gas molecules. In the case of healthy walkers, the situation of type 1 diabetes walkers is more serious, and the amount of acetone they exhale increases during walking. However, for walkers with type 2 diabetes, this is not the case, because the drugs they take can make the body consume more sugar. The researchers also tested the walkers’ urine to verify their results; The measured acetone concentration shows a similar pattern.
Except for the moments that need to be monitored, these walkers do not need to follow any special rules: they can eat and drink anywhere at any time, and researchers cannot control their sleep time or any other activities, except for the miles they walk in the “four-day parade”. As Cristescu explained, the experiment was conducted in such a natural and uncontrolled environment, which made the research results more powerful. “Our ultimate goal is to develop a tool that allows both diabetes patients and non diabetes patients to easily and in real time measure the acetone content in their breath.” This will enable them to monitor the rate at which they burn fat, and to take action before the blood acidifies. Then they can stop exercising when the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. ”
The test of participants in the international four-day march is a cooperative project between Radboudumc University and Radboudumc physicists and physiologists. As part of the EFRO project, it is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Gelderland Province.