Now if you’ve ever tried to lose weight, which many of us have, then I’m sure you’ve heard the term metabolism. Usually you are told you either have “good” or “bad” metabolism. The only thing you may be sure of is that if you have a “bad” one then it will be harder for you to lose weight. But have you ever wondered what exactly this term means? If so, read below for some background on metabolism and a surprising look into how many of us have metabolic issues and what to do about it.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism is simply the way your body breaks down foods and uses them for energy. As you grow older, your metabolic rate naturally slows down. Not only that, but natural aging also leads to reduced levels of lean muscle mass. In turn, this will cause a further drop in your metabolic rate.
Metabolic health and inflammation
Besides aging, research is starting to see a possible connection between inflammation and metabolic health. Evidence shows that regulators of the immune system and metabolic interactions include genetics and gut health. Inflammation and metabolic signals may also be closely related. Therefore, further research is warranted to see if an anti-inflammatory approach may be effective in treatment of insulin resistance and other metabolic-related health issues.
What is good metabolic health?
Having a “good” metabolic health means that you have healthy levels of the following five measures without the help of medication.
- Fasting blood glucose: should be at or below 100 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: should be at or below 150 mg/dL
- High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol: should be at or above 40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL and above for women
- Blood pressure: should be at or under 120 mm Hg systolic pressure over 80 mm Hg diastolic pressure
- Waist circumference: should be less than 35 inches for women and less than 40 inches for men
Any of these measures above the healthy ranges would indicate a less than optimal metabolic health. This in turn could put your at risk for conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The metabolic state of the union
A recent report looks at the latest results of the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The report looked at data from between 2009 and 2016 of about 8700 adults. This study is used often to look at data trends that represent the average U.S. population.
Current data results reveal that only about 12-percent of the U.S. population has “good” metabolic health. Factors linked with “good” metabolic health include being physically active, younger, and a non-smoker, among other things. Obesity was a leading factor of “poor” metabolic health, with less than 1-percent of those who are obese being considered of “good” metabolic health.
How can I improve my metabolic health?
By looking at what increases risk of metabolic health issues, then you can see what lifestyle changes can help. Here is a list of some healthy lifestyle behavior changes you can make to help improve your metabolic health.
- Exercise often: Stay active as much as possible with both cardio and strength training. This will help you to maintain muscle mass and heart health.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet: Try to consume a heart healthy diet full of antioxidant and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables as well as lean proteins and plenty of water. Be sure to portion out food into appropriate servings throughout the day to prevent eating too many calories daily. Also, limit processed food intake such as packaged snacks, meals, and sugary drinks and snacks. This will also help to lower your total calorie and sugar intake that can impact metabolic health.
- Manage your weight: Diet and exercise, along with sleeping at least seven hours a night and managing stress can help manage your weight. Since obesity is a risk factor for poor metabolic health, managing weight can improve your metabolic health.
- Quit smoking or don’t start: Since being a non-smoker is a marker for “good” metabolic health, then quitting smoking if yo smoke would help improve your metabolic health.
- Take supplements when necessary: If you have any nutrient deficiencies, then this could impact your energy or ability to be at your best. Therefore, in some cases, a supplement such as Glucarex by Vita Sciences may be helpful. Glucarex contains natural ingredients like chromium, alpha lipoic acid, and cinnamon to help naturally support weight loss as well as healthy metabolism and blood glucose levels.
- Visit your healthcare provider often: If you visit your doctor at least once a year to check your lab numbers, then you can better track your progress. This can help yo to catch any unhealthy trends in lab values early before they cause any major health issues.
- NIH News in Health (July 2015) “Minding Your Metabolism.”
- Medline Plus (April 23, 2018) “Can you boost your metabolism?” https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000893.htm
- HealthDay (December 4, 2018) “Few Americans Have Optimal ‘Metabolic Health.'”
- Zmora, N., Bashiardes, S., Levy, M., and Elinav, E. (March 2017) “The Role of the Immune System in Metabolic Health and Disease.” Cell Metabolism, 25(3): 506-521.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine (accessed December 12, 2018) “Metabolic Syndrome.”