There’s a lot of talk about metabolism in health news these days. But I often wonder if folks understand what metabolism really is. Let’s take a quick look at the real meaning of metabolism, and then I’ll tell you about a few simple ways that you can begin to heal your own metabolism.
What is metabolism?
What is the first thing that pops into your head when I say metabolism? I bet you think about burning calories, right? Well, metabolism is much more complex than that.
Metabolism actually refers to how your body coverts or produces energy. And this goes way beyond just calories. Because every cell in your body needs energy in order to function, metabolism is the measurement of how well each cell in your body is producing and using energy. This is important because EVERY single function in your body (like brain function, digestive function, liver function, thyroid function, etc.) depends on this energy conversion. If your cells are not efficiently taking in fuel and producing energy, your bodily functions will not be operating properly.
How healthy is your metabolism?
Take a look at this chart and think about how you would rate your metabolism.
from The Nourished Metabolism by Elizabeth Walling
Having a healthy, or nourished metabolism, means more than being able to eat whatever you want without gaining weight. It means that all of your bodily functions and systems are working efficiently so that your body finds balance and good health. As you can see, when your metabolism is weakened, or stressed, your whole body suffers. Every function in your body is affected and out of balance.
When your cells are receiving the energy they need to function properly, your body is happy and healthy. You feel good and energized. When cells are not getting the energy that they need, your metabolism slows down to adjust for this deficiency in energy. And many body systems are affected as your body scales down to conserve energy for vital body functions in order to survive.
Would you say your metabolism is nourished or stressed?
If you answered stressed, here are a few simple things you can do to begin to heal your metabolism. When your metabolism is healthy and at it’s optimal level, your body systems will work properly and you will feel healthy, vital, and energetic.
5 Simple Ways to Heal Your Metabolism
1. Reduce your stress:
Stress is the number one killer of your metabolism. And your body doesn’t distinguish between different types of stress. It responds to every single stress in the same exact way.
Stress can be defined as any event that triggers a response from the adrenal glands, meaning it releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. And having chronic stress (whether it’s physical stress, emotional stress, lack of sleep, or poor eating habits) eventually leads to damage to your metabolic system.
Take some time to evaluate what causes stress in your own life and make the appropriate changes necessary to reduce the amount of stress your body goes through. The next few suggestions will give you a better idea on what some of the major stressors are that damage metabolism.
2. Sleep Sleep Sleep:
How often do you get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night? Did you know that lack of sleep sends your stress hormones up up up, causing havoc to your metabolism?
Elizabeth Walling in The Nourished Metabolism, states:
“Lack of sleep is a direct stress on the body. Sleep studies show that even one night of poor sleep can elevate your cortisol levels the next day. Imagine what happens when you sleep poorly almost every night! It’s a recipe for chronically high stress hormones.”
Our chronically busy lifestyle often lead us to fall short in the sleep department. Getting good quality sleep on a REGULAR basis at night is critical for a healthy metabolism.
3. Move your body, but not too much:
Yes, it’s good to move your body on a regular basis. But did you know that over-exercising can damage your metabolism? We live in a culture where many people think a little is good, so a lot is even better. This is not necessarily true when it comes to exercise.
Excessive exercise can be just as bad if not worse than living a sedentary lifestyle. Especially if you have an already stressed metabolism. And over-exercising is no way to make up for living an unhealthy lifestyle.
“Long sessions of endurance exercise (also known as cardio or aerobic exercise) requires the body to switch fuel sources so it can burn protein and fat for energy. This causes the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. When you’re doing endurance exercise on a regular basis (especially when you’re not eating and sleeping enough to support the activity), this leads to chronically high stress hormone levels.”
—from The Nourished Metabolism, by Elizabeth Walling
4. Ditch the dieting:
A healthy diet is essential to vital living. Eating a balanced diet full of REAL, whole foods is the best way to nourish and rebuild your metabolism. Eating processed foods, skipping meals, and restricting calories all deplete the metabolism and compromise every function in your body.
Fact: There is no magic pill or perfect diet plan that is going to give you the body that you want. Chronic dieting, calorie restriction, and restrictive eating all lead to a stressed metabolism. Here are just a few side effects of dieting, from The Nourished Metabolism:
- Decreased thyroid function
- Increased stress hormones
- Break down of lean tissue mass leading to burning less fat than when you started dieting
- Mood swings
- Thinning hair
- Sleep disturbances
- Skin issues
5. Heal your gut:
Your digestion determines your metabolism. Did you know that? If you aren’t digestion your food properly and breaking down the nutrients, your cells are not going to be able to access the fuel. Without proper fuel, your metabolism will suffer.
Do you suffer from heartburn, acid reflux, stomach pain, bloating, gas, or constipation? These are all signs of unhealthy digestion. With digestive issues becoming the norm, it is easy to see why so many folks are dealing with stressed metabolism and chronic health issues.
Learning to support your gut and your digestive system will go a long way in healing your metabolism. Learn how to increase the good flora in your gut. Learn what foods aggravate your digestive system. Eat tons of homemade bone broth and add gelatin to your diet.
And make sure things are moving. Constipation means that digestive waste is staying inside your body absorbing back into your system. Not good. If you are not having one decent bowel movement a day, you may need to make some dietary and lifestyle changes to improve elimination in your body.
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Want to learn more?
Interested in learning more about nourishing your metabolism? I highly recommend reading Elizabeth Walling’s book, Nourished Metabolism. I have read a lot of books on health and wellness. And I can honestly say that this is hands down the most comprehensive and holistic book on nutrition and health that I have read. Elizabeth hits the nail right on the head when she says that , “Health starts with your metabolism.”
What I love about this book is it’s simplicity. It is a completely balanced guide for learning and exploring about your own personal metabolism. The ideas are simple, yet powerful. Elizabeth gives practical changes that you can make in your diet and lifestyle to drastically improve your metabolism. There is no magic bullet here. There is no restrictive dieting. Just common sense information to help you to understand how your metabolism works and how it heals.
Do any of you suffer from things like low energy, insomnia, poor digestion, low body temperature, dull skin, and mood swings? If so, this book is for you.
What you will learn from this book:
- Seek out and destroy the hidden causes of stress in your life
- End digestive problems like bloating, constipation, and food intolerances
- Just say no to fad diets that don’t really work and seriously damage your health
- Stop restricting food groups and enjoy a variety of foods you love
- Learn how salt, sugar and water can be used to boost your metabolic health
- Stop wasting money on supplements by eating superfoods and supplementing wisely
- Learn the secrets to sleeping well, so you can wake up rested and refreshed
- How to get the most out of exercise without stressing your body (hint: more is not always better!)
- Find out how to listen to your body’s biofeedback so you know what works for you
- Manage your weight without sacrificing your metabolic health
- No gimmicks, just balance!
- A low-fat, low salt diet and rigorous exercise stresses your metabolism.
- Your body doesn’t distinguish between different kinds of stress. It responds to every stress in the same way.
- Lack of sufficient sleep is one of the major drains on metabolism.
- Skipping meals, dieting, or cutting out food groups can all be significant stressors.
- Being indoors and away from natural light is a stressor on the body.
For more information about The Nourished Metabolism, click HERE now!
Photo credit: depositphotos.com / massonforstock