The metabolism

… countless processes in the body

The term ‘metabolism’ describes the countless processes that provide and consume the body’s energy, as well as transporting substances to cells, converting them and carrying them away again.

The central and largest metabolic organ is the liver. It serves as a store and is key to detoxification. A huge strain is placed on the liver, and thus on the metabolism, by inadequate gut function, especially maldigestion. A balanced diet with plenty of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements is a basic prerequisite for a well-functioning metabolism.

The speed at which calories are burned depends on muscle mass, hormones, age and genes. A healthy diet and regular exercise can stimulate the metabolism and increase our resting metabolic rate. In times of famine, the body curbs the resting metabolic rate and the metabolism slows down. This is very useful: it has saved people from starvation throughout history. Today, however, this ‘metabolic brake’ is what causes the yo-yo effect of crash dieting.

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A well-functioning metabolism requires fluids. Two to three litres of non-calorific drinks such as water or unsweetened tea dampen hunger pangs between meals and ensure proper metabolic function.

Two of the most common metabolic disorders are diabetes and gout. If we would like to eat healthily, we need to choose foods with high nutrient density, such as pulses, vegetables, nuts, grains, fruit, low-fat meat and fish. The hotter spices such as chilli and ginger accelerate metabolic processes.

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Whether we exercise or not, a healthy lifestyle is a must if we wish to give our metabolism a boost. We also need to avoid chronic stress and, very importantly, take plenty of time over our meals: a rushed, carbohydrate-rich meal results in such a high insulin level that it blocks fat burning for hours. It is also important to note that the metabolism starts to slow down from the age of forty, after which we need to offset the steadily increasing fat percentage by increasing our muscle mass.

Virtually all metabolic processes are subject to the circadian rhythm. This means that metabolism and digestion cannot work to their full potential without regularly alternating sleeping and waking phases. Many scientific studies have shown that sleep disorders, as well as sleeping during daylight hours, can lead to significant health problems in both adults and children. These include obesity, depression and high blood pressure.