What is Metabolism?
Metabolic rate, or the speed at which you burn calories, was once considered a "fixed" thing in the body. Even recently I have been told by some doctors that "nothing can change a person's base metabolic rate". This simply isn't true. The myth of "calories in = calories out" is also dishearteningly persistent.
At its deepest level metabolism is driven by mitochondrial activity. Mitochondria are special cell structures that convert nutrients into energy (ATP) and heat. The speed at which they work depends on the presence of nutrients and also on the presence of thyroid hormone. Nutrients are the fuel, mitochondria are the engine, and thyroid hormone is the gas pedal.
The body is smart and tends to self regulate. If we become infected with a pathogen, or are eating food that causes inflammation, or are under enormous stress, or are exposed to toxins, our body is designed to slow down and rest. Any of these triggers can begin a cascade that results in a lowering of mitochondrial function and metabolic rate.
Metabolism is regulated by a combination of hormones, diet, exercise, and nutrient levels, but is also influenced by inflammation (regulated by the immune system). It can be negatively impacted by stress, toxic exposures, infections, inflammation, and nutrient deficiencies.
Metabolic imbalance is often expressed as
Insulin resistance (pre-diabetes)
Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
High cholesterol, LDL, or triglycerides
Chemical exposures, mold exposure, chronic inflammation, stress, immune imbalance and hormone imbalance can all contribute as well as the obvious diet, exercise and lifestyle contributors. As with most other health issues, it is important to find the underlying cause (or combination of factors) that has slowed down metabolism. By addressing these issues, we allow the body to heal. Specific targeted diet, exercise, herbs and supplements can help once the cause is known.