Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Metabolism can be defined through three primary functions in a body. It includes the conversion of food to energy, the conversion of food to the building blocks for proteins and fats to maintain the structures in our body, and finally it is the elimination of metabolic waste from our body.
Our metabolic health is foundational to the overall well-being of every physiological function in our body, including weight management, cardiovascular health, blood sugar control and blood pressure just to name a few. In the past few years metabolic health has become a growing concern with the proliferation of several chronic diseases.
So what happens when your metabolism is dysfunctional?
In recent years the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome has been used to describe a number of factors that will increase your risk of conditions including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and heart failure.
Clinically speaking metabolic heath is defined by 5 markers. Identification of 3/5 of these markers is used as a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. These include:
- High blood pressure: : greater than 130/85 mm/Hg
- Increased waist circumference: greater than 88cm for women and 102 cm for men
- High triglyceride level: greater than 150 mg/dL
- Low HDL (also known as the “good cholesterol”): lower than 40mg/dL
- High blood glucose: greater than 100mg/dL OR if a person is medicated for high blood glucose.
Although clinical diagnosis is the most accurate way to assess metabolic health, there are also common symptoms that can indicate metabolic dysfunction: these include:
- Low energy: When our body cannot effectively manage glucose levels we experience blood sugar spick and subsequent drops, leading to fatigue and overall low energy
- Weight loss resistance: Not only does increased weight raise your risk for metabolic syndrome, it can also be a consequence of metabolic dysfunction.
- Brain fog/ Poor concentration: Glucose is the primary energy source for the brain. When you are not able to regulate and utilize glucose cognitive function can begin to decline.
- Poor skin health: many skin conditions including acne, skin tags and psoriasis have been associated with metabolic dysfunction.
Irritability and mood disturbances: Energy levels and mood are closely related, because of this many people with
What can you do to support a healthy metabolism?
Metabolic syndrome is often a result of lifestyle factors, meaning that it responds well to lifestyle changes. Some approaches to healing your metabolism include:
- Eat a Healthy diet: Nutrition is a major component of metabolic health. Consuming a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, and high quality protein can help to regulate glucose levels. In addition ensuring a high micronutrient intake helps to promote proper cellular function in the body.
- Getting adequate sleep: sleep is important for a number of processes in the body, including optimal metabolic function. Getting 7-9 hours of high quality sleep per night is recommended.
- Exercise Regularly: Exercise can not only help maintain healthy weigh, it also improves insulin sensitivity. When considering an exercise routine the most important thing is to choose an sport or exercise that you enjoy
- Manage stress: High stress levels have been associated with metabolic dysfunction, due to the higher levels of cortisol release. Many people experience stress due to work, personal life, relationships, finances, family and school. It is important to properly identify sources of stress in your life and implement stress reduction and management strategies.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Proper nutrition and exercise can help to maintain a healthy weight. However, those with metabolic syndrome often find it hard to maintain a healthy weight even when exercising and eating a healthy diet. Working to heal the metabolism can often help aid in weight loss.
- Herbal medicine: some herbs such as fenugreek, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger have been shown to help improve ins insensitive and metabolic function.
In short metabolic dysfunction can lead to number of symptoms and ultimately can increase a person risk of developing chronic disease. Fortunately there are many lifestyle based interventions to help treat and prevent metabolic dysfunction.
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