Nutrition and Metabolism
What do you think of when you hear the word “metabolism”?
Weight loss, energy, getting older? The term is used in many contexts…but what does it really mean? One authoritative definition of metabolism is the following:
“The whole range of biochemical processes that occur within a living organism. Metabolism consists of anabolism (the build-up of substances) and catabolism (the break-down of substances). The term metabolism is commonly used to refer specifically to the break-down of food and its transformation into energy.”
So what does that mean? It means metabolism is the body’s process of changing food into energy and how the body then uses that energy for various functions. Some of those functions we have to think about and some we don’t…like choosing to walk to the gym to work out versus the detoxification process that occurs 24/7 in the liver and kidneys.
This is a two-part blog delivered over 2 weeks:
WEEK 1: We’ll discuss some key metabolism facts and provide some points as to what this means. We’ll also look at food components which may help to boost metabolism.
WEEK 2: We’ll look at some practical ways that we can incorporate metabolism boosting foods into our daily life with a few delicious recipes.
Key Metabolism Facts
- As we age our muscle mass decreases and our fat level begin to increase. In fact, one of the greatest predictors of advanced aging decline is the increasing loss of muscle mass over time.
- As we age our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR = the amount of calories we burn at rest) decreases, which means that as we age our metabolism is actually slowing down.
- Key point: As we get older, we need to stay physically active (especially with resistance training-based activities) in order to help maintain muscle mass and help keep our fat level low, which will support our metabolism by helping to raise our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).
- Mitochondria are the “battery packs” in our cells that produces the energy our cells and organ systems need to function.
- Recent studies indicate that many chronic disease states begin to happen when the mitochondria don’t function properly. Hence, keeping our mitochondria healthy is vital to maintaining our overall optimal health as we age.
- Key point: As we get older, our mitochondria become more susceptible to poor diet and oxidative damage that sets the stage for unhealthy aging and chronic disease states. To avoid this situation makes it even more important to feed and protect our mitochondria.
We are made up of – by some estimates – as many as 37.2 trillion cells. The majority of these cells contain mitochondria that are subject to the various exposures, good and bad, from our daily lifestyle choices – exercise (or lack thereof), exposure to pollution, consumption of vegetables and consumption of processed food. All of these choices, along with our genetics, determine how fast we will age and how well our metabolism and mitochondria will function. Consider how metal rusts and food goes rancid unless cared for appropriately – that’s a simplified visual version of what we deal with in our cells over time.
How do we slow this rusting and aging? From the inside out!
We know exercise does many things to support our mitochondria and hence our metabolism. A quality exercise program can maximise your mitochondrial density and support your metabolism.
Research also suggests that key phytonutrients and the amount and type of food we eat each day also support how well both function.
- Sirtuins are a group of regulatory enzymes believed to play a key role in aging and longevity. They can assist with increasing the number and vitality of mitochondria, enhancing energy efficiency and muscular performance. Sirtuins also assist with the stress response, modulate inflammation and energy production and consumption. Seven sirtuins have been identified in mammals with SIRT1 being the most widely researched.
- Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a coenzyme found in our cells that helps our mitochondria function more effectively and efficiently. Mitochondria cannot perform their crucial cellular functions without a sufficient supply of NAD+. The more NAD+ we have the better our mitochondria work. NAD+ serves as a signaling molecule and a cofactor for sirtuins. Without adequate NAD+ sirtuins won’t work. All seven sirtuins require NAD+, a derivative of vitamin B3 (niacin), to function. Niacin is found in mackerel, wild salmon, sardines, mushrooms, chicken, turkey, duck and whole grains.
- Key point: Aging, along with physical inactivity and poor diet, can lead to decreased levels of NAD+, which then results in decreased mitochondria production and function. This can then lead to a seemingly sluggish metabolism and the potential for negative health consequences, or early onset of aging.
There are a few ways to activate sirtuins in the body one way is through diet. Foods and food components which may help this activation are:
- Resveratrol a polyphenol has been shown to have beneficial effects including antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory. Resveratrol is found in berries, red grapes, peanuts, soy beans and pomegranate.
- Quercetin is a significant anti-inflammatory which has protective properties against a number of diseases. Quercetin is found in capers, buckwheat, apples, tea, onions, citrus fruits, green vegetables and most berries.
- Olive oil is rich in polyphenols and has an ability to activate sirtuins.
- Cacao is rich in flavonoids and evidence suggests that it activates sirtuins
- Green tea contain epigallactins that upregulate sirtuins
- Vegetables rich in indole-3-carbinol (I3C) such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage (brassica family) have been found to activate sirtuins and decrease fat formation making them a possible anti-obesity agent.
- Piceatannol – a naturally occurring analogue of resveratrol, it displays antioxidative, anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory activities that may be due to its activation of sirtuins. It is found in various plants, including grapes, passion fruit, white tea, and Japanese knotweed.
- Turmeric is a rich source of curcumin and has been shown to exhibit many anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects which are partly due to the activation of SIRT 1
- Soy foods – contain isoflavones with many reported health benefits some of which may be attributed to the activation of SIRT1 signaling. Good sources of isoflavones include tofu, tempeh and miso.
- Omega 3 fats – Several studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can improve cardiovascular health, inflammation, insulin sensitivity and autoimmune disorders. This may be partly due to their effect on SIRT1 activation.
- Melatonin – known as the sleep hormone due to its association with the circadian rhythm, melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Levels of melatonin tend to decline with age and its loss contributes to some of the degenerative conditions of aging. Evidence suggests that melatonin activates sirtuins.
Please Note: Research on the effects of sirtuins on human subjects is still being investigated and some of the studies have been conducted using supplements rather than whole foods (references are available on request).
If you are interested in finding out more about your metabolism you can contact me via my website www.delina.com or by calling 0402309997.
You can also contact Jupiter Health directly for a metabolic test. We then look at your results and come up with a personalised plan to assist you in reaching your goals.
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