Metabolism Is The Secret to Good Health (Here’s What You Need To Know)
There is a lot of confusion about what metabolism really is, and whether a slow or fast metabolism is better for your long term health. To better understand what metabolism is we need to look at the two main factors affecting it - the first being the balance of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in your food, and second, your daily activities.
What is metabolism, and what does it achieve?
Ultimately your metabolism (from Greek, metabolē, meaning "change") is the entire set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in any living body. Its main purpose is to convert food into energy and building blocks to perform critical functions in our body. Metabolism is responsible for:
- Fueling all cellular processes in the body, including the production of a strong stomach acid to aid in digestion (which accounts for 65% of daily energy use!), transportation of substances into and between different cells, and all thinking, organ function, and muscle movement.
- Detoxifying your body by enabling our cells to clean up the mess we create with excess stress, ingestion of toxins, over exercise, lack of sleep, unwanted radiation, and overwork.
- Rebuilding your health by assembling building blocks (from proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates) to allow cells to grow and repair themselves.
The chemical reactions of your metabolism are organized into metabolic pathways driven by thousands of different enzymes which allow one chemical to be transformed into another chemical, each step being facilitated by a specific enzyme. There are roughly 3000 enzymes thought to be involved in human metabolism. If the proper nutrients are available, our bodies make and activate most metabolic enzymes using vitamins, minerals, and other co-enzyme factors.
Together these vitamins, minerals and metabolic enzymes act as catalysts, activating desirable reactions that would not occur by themselves, which means it’s the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that make metabolism (and our existence) possible. They allow all life to grow, reproduce, and maintain their structures. If your body is deficient in vitamins and minerals, the enzymes driving your metabolism can not work properly.
So what type of metabolism is healthiest?
Most of us think that having a fast metabolism is healthier, and equate a fast metabolism with being thin. But this isn’t quite right. In fact a slightly slower intracellular metabolism is healthier than a fast intracellular metabolism. But how come?
Intracellular metabolism vs. Overall metabolism
There are two different types of metabolism, with differing factors that affect each. (And how well you regulate the elements of your metabolism ultimately determines your overall energy and health.) First there is your intracellular metabolism, which affects the rate of energy production inside the cells in the body, and then there is your overall metabolism, which is the the sum of all reactions of the body’s cells as a whole.
Properly regulating intracellular metabolism is very important to optimal health. The good news? You can control both your intracellular and overall metabolism with what you eat, your daily mental and physical activities, and by managing stress and the amount of rest you get. The primary factor controlling intracellular metabolism is the relative balance or ratio of specific minerals, vitamins and nutrients entering your cells.
Why intracellular metabolism is critical to your health
Specific nutrients either enhance or inhibit cellular nutrient absorption and utilization, meaning the speed and efficiency of your intracellular metabolism will be faster or slower depending on the ratios of these nutrients in your body. It also impacts the hormonal function and output of your thyroid, adrenal, and other glands that help regulate nutrient absorption, incorporation into body tissues, and excretion, affecting energy production and the function of tissues (including skin, muscles, organs, bone, hair, and nails).
As the balance of vitamins and minerals in your body are associated with stimulating or inhibiting the main energy producing endocrine glands, these ratios of nutrients largely drive your intracellular metabolic rate. Further, your nutritional balance can be easily determined (and later adjusted) by using metabolic testing to evaluate your body’s tissue mineral balances.
But picking the right tissue for metabolic testing analysis is very important. As blood is found outside cells, and is therefore not a cellular tissue, it’s not suitable for analyzing nutrient levels within cells. Hair tissue is preferred as it’s made up of cells, is easily collected, and is reflective of all important mineral balances. Cellular metabolism can also fluctuate based on daily swings in these nutrient balances. Fortunately, your hair provides an average of your nutrient balances and toxin intake over a 3 month period, indicating whether you are trending towards a slower or faster cellular metabolism.
And contrary to what you may have thought - not all those with a slower cellular metabolism are overweight, and not all those with a faster metabolism are lower in weight. This is because one’s metabolism is significantly affected by daily activity and nutrient intake levels, which help determine how much energy is consumed.
A slightly slower intracellular metabolism is healthiest, as it allows energy to burn more evenly in the body, with less potential to gain excess fat, or experience mood swings.
How is a proper balance of nutrients determined?
Nature, the natural food chain it provides, and the ideal balance of plants, animals and other healthy foods we can derive from it when chosen properly - provide a general proper balance of key nutrients. And if so, these same properly balanced levels are also reflected in your cell tissues. Further, those nutrient elements are found in specific ratios to each other (indicating whether they are balanced or not), which have been well established through metabolic testing. This provides you the necessary information to make the dietary adjustments that provide the nutrients required, either through high-quality foods, supplements, or a combination of both.
For optimum health, the stimulatory elements that speed up cellular metabolism need to be in a relatively good balance with those calming and relaxing elements that slow metabolism. The stimulatory elements within foods are phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and to a lesser extent zinc, iron, manganese, and chromium, and the calming and relaxing elements are calcium, and to a lesser extent magnesium and copper.
All lifeforms use phosphorus to fuel their cells. So, when intracellular phosphorus levels are higher relative to calcium, your cells are full of fuel and your metabolism speeds up. This can be further enhanced by higher levels of sodium and potassium, which stimulate adrenal and thyroid gland function respectively, and also work to pump nutrients into cells that can be converted to energy.
On the other hand, overly high intakes of calcium (which currently affects 75-80% of the population) block the uptake of stimulatory phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. So when calcium is higher than its ideal ratio to phosphorus your metabolism slows down. That means in contrast to what you may have heard, most adults do not need extra calcium. In fact an excess of calcium relative to other nutrients can lead to arthritis, heart, kidney, or bowel disease, and even osteoporosis.
Why a fast metabolism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
Too many stimulating nutrients in your body cause a rapid uptake and burn of nutrients, which can cause hyper behavior, nervousness, excessive sweating, weight gain, and muscle loss. When the cellular energy burn rate is faster it's easier for your cells to run out of fuel. This makes you feel hungry more often, and for some, prone to eat more than you need, causing unwanted weight gain as excess fat.
On the other hand, those with a faster cellular metabolism who don’t eat enough, cause their body to consume muscle protein that can be quickly converted to sugar to power the brain and kidneys. This process drains you of energy and wears out your body faster than necessary.
The issue with an overly slow metabolism
It comes back to the balance of nutrients in your body. For example, if calcium intake is excessive relative to phosphorus, potassium and sodium, the overall uptake of all nutrients from the blood into cells is drastically reduced. This raises blood sugar levels, forcing the body to remove that sugar from the blood, store it as fat, and cause associated weight gain.
It also dramatically reduces energy production and stomach acid production in the body, making exercise and other activities more difficult. This makes it harder to keep oxygen levels up, and to keep the lymph system flowing, which requires exercise for stimulation and circulation. The combination of those factors leads to reduced immune system function, poor digestion, and potential for long-term impacts on your health.
So tell me, how do I achieve a balanced metabolism
When an ideal metabolic rate is combined with moderate exercise, cells will consume phosphorus fuel, as well as potassium and sodium to support thyroid and adrenal function, and overall nutrient flow into cells. By not over-supplying these stimulatory nutrients in relation to calcium and copper, your body will have the adequate power to deliver optimum health. This results in your intracellular metabolism being maintained at a neutral rate. Research shows this is the ideal state and can be achieved with the proper food, supplement, and exercise. We encourage you to strive to build your metabolism, cells, body, and mind to an ideal and sustainable level.
And while it’s fun and rewarding to work or train hard to achieve your athletic or career goals, clinical metabolic research shows that the overly-aggressive pushing of one’s metabolism in the long term causes a breakdown in the efficiency of aerobic respiration within your body. This is because extreme exercise, work, stress, or partying impairs enzyme efficiency, and results in excess stress and damage to the tissues, which depletes the body of critical nutrients necessary to detoxify and repair the body, brain, and other organs.
The advanced metabolic research and testing being done by Paragon confirms that if you are interested in living a long, healthy, and vibrant life, it’s wise to achieve a neutral metabolism, and using it to build and maintain muscle mass, flexibility, and peak neurological function. Paragon’s comprehensive metabolic analysis can help anyone achieve this across all aspects of their life, by providing comprehensive personalized dietary, supplement, and lifestyle advice.