What Your Metabolism is Trying to Tell You About Your Health
There’s a lot of talk about metabolism --- especially in the world of weight loss.
Fast metabolism, slow metabolism…what does it all mean?
How do you know if your metabolism is doing what it’s supposed to, and how do you know when there’s a problem?
Metabolic health is more than just weight loss. It’s key to living and aging well. That’s why in this article we’re bringing you all the facts about your metabolism, and what it may be trying to tell you about your health.
How Your Metabolism Works
What is your metabolism and how does it affect your body?
Behind the scenes of nearly every interaction in your body, your metabolism is hard at work. Directed by your endocrine and nervous system, your metabolism operates on a cellular level to energize life-sustaining functions, like (1):
- Hormone regulation
- Blood circulation
- Cell repair and replication
- Maintaining body temperature
This energy comes in the form of calories. When you eat, your body mixes oxygen with the calories in your food to produce energy (2).
Your body needs a certain number of calories to keep these functions going. The minimum number of these calories is called your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. Factors that affect your personal BMR include (3):
- Physical activity
- Muscle mass
- Gut microbiome health
Mild Metabolic Disorders
A healthy body is like a well-oiled machine. But when abnormal chemical reactions interrupt the ordinary flow of things, your metabolism can start to malfunction.
Whether due to genetics, mitochondrial dysfunction, or organ malfunction, metabolic disorders are often complex. There are currently over 1,450 recognized metabolic disorders (4). Some of the more well-known metabolic disorders are:
- Diabetes: This develops when your cells can’t process insulin as they should. This results in too much glucose in your bloodstream (5).
- Phenylketonuria (PKU): This occurs when a person is born with a low or no ability to break down excess amino acids. This can lead to a buildup in the brain, causing irreversible damage (6).
- Hemochromatosis: This genetic disorder is when your body absorbs too much iron. This can cause abnormal heart rhythms, skin discoloration, and even cancers if not addressed (7).
- Gaucher’s disease: This disorder is when fatty substances build up around organs such as the spleen, liver, and bone marrow. This can lead to bleeding and bruising problems, bone pain, anemia, and a swollen abdomen (8).
Even if you don’t have a severe metabolic disorder, your metabolism may not be operating at its best. So how do you know if your metabolism is trying to tell you something?
- You feel tired all the time
- Your mood is low
- You feel bloated or constipated
- You have trouble losing weight
- You experience brain fog
- You feel cold
- You have dry skin
- You frequently crave sweet, salty or fatty foods
Lifestyle Factors that Affect Metabolism
Aside from genetics, certain habits can slow down your metabolism. This can make it harder to lose weight or feel better in general.
Some of the biggest mistakes when it comes to metabolic health include (17):
- Not eating enough protein
- Sitting around too much
- Consuming sugary drinks
- Not exercising regularly
- Skimping on quality sleep
The good news is, with a few adjustments you can be on your way to experiencing more energy, better digestion, clearer thinking, and more.
Ways to Support Your Metabolism
How do you improve metabolic health? That will depend on where you currently are and where you want to be.
Unless you have a genetic metabolic disorder, there are lifestyle changes you can make today that go a long way in improving your overall metabolic health.
- Diet: Ditch the diet mentality and focus on lean proteins, fiber, healthy fats, fruits, and leafy green vegetables. Stay away from refined carbohydrates, sugars, and unhealthy fats (10).
- Get enough sleep: Numerous studies show how much sleep impacts your health, especially when it comes to regulating hormones (11). Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
- Exercise: The more you move your body, the more calories you burn. Cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercise are all examples of ways you can physically rev up your metabolism (12).
- Vitamins and Supplements: Boosting natural energy levels can be as easy as adding green tea, B vitamins, Magnesium, and Vitamin D to your regimen (13).
- Gut health: A strong immune system is directly tied to healthy metabolic function. Focusing on a healthy gut microbiome not only improves your metabolism but also provides heart and brain health (14).
- Intermittent fasting: Going without food for certain periods of time has been shown to boost your metabolism, increase longevity, and enhance your overall health (15).
If you need additional help, make an appointment with a certified functional medicine practitioner to help you create a plan that’s sustainable and effective for you.
Back to You
Your metabolism is one of the most important systems in your body. It takes your food and turns it into fuel for your organs, tissues, and other life-sustaining systems.
Metabolic disorders can happen at any point in this system. Some are genetic and appear shortly after birth, while others develop over the course of decades. Recognizing when your metabolism is trying to tell you something can help you take action now to prevent further issues down the road.
Feeling sluggish, bloated tired, and moody can all be signs that your metabolism needs some TLC. By taking a look at your diet, exercise routines, and sleep habits, you may gain clues into how you can better support your metabolism.
Your body speaks to you more often than you realize. By paying close attention and noticing the details, you can encourage a healthy metabolism that continues to fuel your lifestyle.
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✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author