30 Sep 2022

How Metabolism Really Works

Post by Jordan Toplen

Metabolic health is one of the most critical aspects of overall health and well-being, but how does the metabolism really work? Metabolism is a process that everyone needs to understand to achieve and maintain a healthy existence. It’s how our cells change the food we eat into the energy we need to breathe, move, think, and everything else. Metabolism combines all the chemical processes that allow an organism to sustain life. For humans, this includes converting energy from food into energy for tasks such as breathing, circulating blood, repairing cells, digesting food, and eliminating waste – basically, all life-sustaining processes.  

There are several metabolic pathways to consider understanding how metabolism really works. A metabolic pathway is a linked series of chemical reactions occurring within a cell. Each metabolic pathway consists of a series of biochemical responses connected by their intermediates: the products of one reaction are the substrates for subsequent reactions, and so on. Metabolic pathways are often considered to flow in one direction. Although all chemical reactions are technically reversible, conditions in the cell are often such that it is thermodynamically more favorable for flux to proceed in one direction of a reaction.  

To explore further, one pathway could be responsible for synthesizing a particular amino acid, but the breakdown of that amino acid may occur via a separate and distinct pathway. One example of an exception to this “rule” is glucose metabolism. Glycolysis results in glucose breakdown, but several glycolysis pathway reactions are reversible and participate in the re-synthesis of glucose. 

When it comes to the aging process, how the metabolism really works changes depending on the person’s age. Metabolism changes as we age and can be monitored best by decade. After 40, the average person loses an estimated 1 percent of muscle mass each year. This makes the metabolism meaningful and redefines it. Maintaining a healthy weight takes time and understanding, so learning, reading, and consuming as much information as possible is essential. By the time a person is 50, they’ve reached a 30 percent drop in their metabolism, meaning that a nightly bowl of ice cream or late-night snacking equates to an additional 3500 calories per week, which results in unwanted fat. 

When it comes to diseases such as cancer or diabetes, how the metabolism really works becomes imperative to understand. The importance of exercise linking molecular mechanisms to cancer prevention and treatment has been well documented. The blog indicates that the benefits of exercise training for cancer patients are becoming increasingly evident. Physical exercise has been shown to reduce cancer incidence and inhibit tumor growth. Researchers cited in the blog focus on the current molecular understanding of the effect of exercise on cancer. Additionally, exercise has a role in controlling cancer progression through a direct effect on tumor-intrinsic factors, interplay with whole-body exercise effects, alleviation of cancer-related adverse events, and improvement of anti-cancer treatment efficacy. 

When it comes to metabolism and medicines, it is understood that some medicines might affect metabolism. Some medications might cause water retention. This makes a person weigh more even if you don’t put on extra fat. Some drugs can slow down your metabolism. These include many antidepressants, mood stabilizers, diabetes medicines, corticosteroids, migraine and seizure prevention medications, beta-blockers (heart medications), and allergy relievers.

A strong metabolism can be achieved at any age with the proper diet and exercise. There are no substitutions for a well-balanced, clean diet and a good mix of activities. This leads to an active, healthy lifestyle that will serve your body and metabolism well. Vitamins and medications are designed to support overall health and wellness and help treat a list a variety of medical indications. Whether you take vitamins, supplements, or prescribed medications, if you suspect your metabolism may be affected by what you put into your body, research, learn and speak with your physician. 

For more information on how metabolism really works, make sure you dive into the many resources available.

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