You are most likely familiar with the concept of metabolism. Metabolism is the process by which a living organism performs actions to keep that organism alive. Metabolism has some essential functions that it performs to keep the body alive. First, it converts food into energy, thus powering the cellular processes in the body. It converts food into the raw materials your body needs to form proteins, fats, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates and even eliminates metabolic waste. So now that you know what metabolism is, you may ask what metabolic health is. Let’s look at what it is and how to support it better.
What is Metabolic Health?
In a clinical sense, your metabolic health will be defined by having optimal levels of five markers. These markers are blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference. If three or more of these markers do not meet their optimal levels without medication, the result is known as metabolic syndrome.
Poor metabolic health can result in worsened cognitive function, energy levels, mood, memory, skin health, fertility and disease risk. You may be shocked that around 88% of Americans display some metabolic dysfunction. The good news is that you can take steps to improve your own metabolic health. Let’s look at some things you can do to get started.
How Can I Improve My Metabolic Health?
As previously mentioned, you will only be in good metabolic health if you can achieve it without medication. If you have all five makers of metabolic health within an acceptable range, but only with medication, you are not considered to be in good metabolic health just yet. So what can you do to get your markers within range without medication intervention? There are quite a few lifestyle changes or additions you can make to get yourself there. Here are a few things you’ll want to start doing immediately to improve your metabolic health:
Improve Your Diet
One of the most significant contributors to our metabolic health is diet. The food we eat and how much will play an important role in your metabolism. Rather than just focusing on specific weight loss diets or gimmicky detoxes, shift your focus towards eating a variety of nutrients that will help to support your metabolic health. For example, foods containing fatty pentadecanoic acid can be helpful. Here are some of the types of foods you will want to include in your diet daily:
· Fruits: Rich in fiber and antioxidants, including fruit in your diet, will help protect against the harmful effects of inflammation on your metabolism.
· Vegetables: Similar to fruit in fiber and antioxidant content, vegetables are also rich in many essential minerals and vitamins that will help your metabolism function its best.
· Whole Grains: Contains both soluble and insoluble fibers. They help reduce cholesterol absorption and blood sugar levels while adding bulk to your stool and reducing your appetite.
· Legumes: A rich source of protein, fiber, and polyphenols that helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and support blood sugar control.
· Seafood: Increasing fish intake by one serving a week has improved metabolic health. A higher intake of fatty fish has also been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and stroke risk.
· Nuts and Seeds: A recent study in Finland has found that two or more servings of nuts a week can lower the rates of metabolic syndrome in men.
Increase Frequency of Exercise
Exercise plays just as important a role as your eating habits in terms of metabolic health. The American Heart Association recommends that all Americans engage in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week to help reduce the risk of metabolic damage. Physical activity also can lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep and reduce anxiety levels.
Manage Your Stress Better
When we experience stress, our body releases a hormone called cortisol. However, too much cortisol can lead to blood sugar fluctuations, increased blood pressure and lipid levels, and insulin resistance which will cause damage to your metabolic health.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
How much sleep you get and the quality of that sleep can also play a role in your metabolic health. Inadequate sleep has long been associated with weight gain. Chronic poor sleep can cause a rise in your cortisol levels which can cause further insulin resistance and lead to weight gain.
Better Metabolic Health
If you suspect your metabolic health could be improved, start taking these steps toward better health today. Your metabolism plays a vital role in nearly all of the body’s essential functions, so make sure you do everything you can to support it.