Metabolic health is a term to describe how well the body can generate and process energy. A healthy metabolism or optimal metabolic health refers to properly functioning cellular mechanisms and energy-producing pathways. Understanding metabolism is the foundation for improving and preventing metabolic syndrome and complications.
Many chronic diseases arise due to metabolic dysfunction. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and dementia are all examples. However, poor metabolic health hits women harder than men. According to statistics, by the age of 45, women are more likely to be overweight or obese, which is a significant risk factor for diabetes. Women are also more likely than men to have impaired glucose tolerance throughout their lives.
These differences are due to various factors, including genetics, body fat distribution, BMI, a history of gestational diabetes, and sex hormone balance. In addition, numerous studies indicate women are more likely to have sleep disturbances, insomnia, and higher stress levels, all of which are associated with an increased risk of metabolic disease. Furthermore, poor metabolic fitness paves the way for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), infertility, menstrual dysfunction, menopausal symptoms, and weight gain.
The HealthifyPro 2.0. comes with the most advanced technologies that help you manage and improve metabolic health. HealthifyMe’s Biosensor System comprises a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) among 80+ parameter metabolic panels to provide a ‘pro’ solution for personalised metabolic fitness. In addition, HealthifyPro combines technology with coaches’ expertise, making it an easy investment for better metabolic health.
Importance of Metabolic Health
Optimal metabolic health is essential from childhood to adulthood. It relates to having a healthy range of blood sugar, triglycerides, (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure & waist size. However, the current statistics show that only one of every 8 people has good metabolic health. Your metabolism covers every biomechanical process that occurs in the body. Being metabolically unhealthy can heighten the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke & hypertension.
Women with poor metabolic health are more likely to have one or more pre-existing health conditions. While it is not entirely clear why metabolic dysfunction affects so many women, it likely involves a combination of genetics, diet, and lifestyle factors.
The HealthifyMe Note
Women worldwide experience many metabolic health problems, including insulin resistance, obesity, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, and hyperinsulinemia. These metabolic health problems result in chronic diseases leading to poor quality of life and shortening life expectancy among women. There is a significant difference in metabolism between men and women. It is primarily due to physiological differences. Genetics, body fat distribution, BMI, a history of gestational diabetes, and sex hormone imbalance all contribute to these differences.
Six Ways in Which Poor Metabolic Health Impacts Women’s Health
There is a significant difference between metabolism in men and women. It is primarily due to the difference in their physiology. Following are a few ways in which metabolism affects women’s health.
The primary cause of infertility in women is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a common problem, and it affects a sizable number of women in the world. A study suggests that globally PCOS may affect anywhere between 4% to 20% of women of reproductive age. There exists a two-way relationship between hormonal imbalance and PCOS. This means PCOS results from hormonal imbalances in women and vice versa.
A study suggests that about 70 % of women with PCOS show insulin resistance. Furthermore, about 50% of women with PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by 40, again a problem caused due to poor metabolic health.
Hormonal imbalance and high insulin levels are signs of poor metabolic health. They have a direct impact on a woman’s fertility. One of the symptoms of PCOS is the increased secretion of male hormones known as androgens.
Research suggests that insulin resistance stimulates the ovaries to produce more of the male hormone. In addition, the quantity of androgens becomes directly related to women’s blood glucose levels. The greater the number of androgens, the higher the blood sugar level. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle where the androgens further worsen insulin resistance by lowering insulin-sensitising hormones and impairing insulin activity in muscle and fat cells of the body. The silver lining is that this issue is manageable. Research has suggested that making minor changes in your diet can help minimise adverse effects.
Here’s an article for you to know more about PCOS and fertility.
Vasomotor episodes (commonly known as hot flashes) are a common menopausal symptom in women with poor metabolic health. A study showed that about 80% of women experience hot flashes during menopause. There is a direct link between such menopausal symptoms and the metabolic health of women. Studies have shown that hot flashes could result in an 18% increased chance of metabolic disorders like diabetes in postmenopausal women.
Menopause is also accompanied by significant changes in the hormonal levels in the body. It causes various impacts, like the increased likelihood of obesity, greater insulin resistance, and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. During a hot flash, the temperature of the skin changes. Initially, it rises and drops as the body starts giving off heat. This change in body temperature can raise glucose levels and increase insulin resistance which causes a spike in blood glucose levels and sleep disturbances during hot flashes.
Poor Skin Health
Collagen and elastin are two primary components that contribute to skin health. However, poor metabolism can affect their function and impact your skin health. In addition, high blood sugar levels, oxidative stress, and inflammation due to metabolic dysfunction can contribute to skin issues.
Research shows that any pathophysiologic dysfunction due to a loss of bodily metabolic control can result in cutaneous diseases, such as psoriasis, acne vulgaris, and atopic dermatitis. Although the exact relationship between metabolic health and skin diseases is still unclear, poor insulin sensitivity, insulin resistance, and chronic inflammation may be contributing factors.
Research has shown that a diet with a high glycemic index may stimulate insulin production and Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). They, in turn, stimulate the glands around the hair follicles to produce more oil, making acne worse. Research also suggests that a high glycemic index diet may activate the mTOR signalling pathway, a group of proteins. It also increases sebum production, causing more inflammation and breakouts. Therefore, switching to a diet containing low glycemic index foods may help decrease the risk of adverse impacts on your skin.
Women, especially after 45, are more vulnerable to gaining weight. In addition, it is difficult for women to lose weight after the fourth decade of their life. Whether your metabolism is fast or slow, your body can store excess energy in fat cells.
Insulin levels play a crucial role in fat storage in the body. When the blood glucose levels go up, insulin signals the body to store it in the form of glycogen and then as fat in different areas of the body. Another reason for abnormal weight gain in women may be the decreased level of estrogen hormone during menopause and metabolic syndrome.
Poor metabolic health may contribute to cognitive impairments. And women have a higher dementia prevalence rate than men. As per estimates, the number of women who have dementia is about twice compared to the number of men suffering from the same. In addition, the risk of dementia rises if the person has higher blood glucose levels.
Various theories present the probable mechanisms through which metabolic health affects cognitive health. For example, inflammation might be a cause of neurodegeneration. The inflammation gets triggered by the build-up of a protein known as beta-amyloid in the brain. The body’s immune system activates, resulting in inflammation to combat this build-up.
The blood-brain barrier controls the molecules that move from the bloodstream to the brain. However, metabolic health issues can impair the blood-brain barrier. It might also cause impaired cognitive function because metabolic disorders cause oxidative stress. The free radicals damage brain cells and limit the role of the brain-blood barrier. As a result, unwanted substances may enter the brain, increasing the chances of neurodegeneration.
Individuals can avoid adverse effects on cognitive health if insulin and glucose levels are kept stable. HealthifyPro introduces a continuous glucose monitor and a smart scale metabolic panel that helps track your glucose level patterns throughout the day. It enables you to understand how your food intake and exercise routine affect your metabolic health, empowering you to make informed decisions.
High Blood Sugar Levels
During the menstrual cycle, there are a lot of hormonal changes in a woman’s body. The fluctuations are significant in the two phases of a menstrual cycle. In the luteal phase of the cycle, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone rise in the body. If no fertilisation occurs, the levels of both hormones go down. In the follicular phase, progesterone levels go down, and oestrogen levels go up towards the end.
Oestrogen and progesterone have different impacts on the body’s insulin sensitivity. Oestrogen promotes insulin sensitivity, while progesterone promotes insulin resistance. In line with this, studies have shown that blood sugar is higher during the luteal phase and lower in the follicular phase. So, you should healthify your diet, especially during the luteal phase, as it has a higher probability of increased blood glucose levels. It will also help if you follow a low carbohydrate diet to minimise the impact on blood glucose levels by preventing spikes.
The HealthifyMe Note
Poor metabolic health significantly affects women’s health. Some significant effects are infertility, menopausal symptoms, obesity/weight gain, poor cognitive health, skin diseases, and fluctuating blood glucose levels.
Ways to Improve Metabolic Health
There is no magic pill or a simple fix for improving metabolic health. However, eating a balanced diet and maintaining regular physical activity will put your metabolic fitness on the right path. Then, when your metabolic system works as it should, you will observe improvements in overall wellness.
Here are some ways to improve your metabolic health:
Add More Protein to Your Diet
Of all the food groups, eating protein-rich foods has the best effect on metabolism. Protein boosts your thermogenesis and helps increase your muscle mass, which boosts your metabolic rate. In addition, compared to carbohydrates and fats, protein takes longer to digest. As a result, it keeps you satiated for an extended period and helps decrease cravings. Therefore you eat fewer calories and maintain a desirable range of weight.
Drink More Water
Staying hydrated is also vital to maintaining good metabolism. Drink water at regular intervals to help boost your Resting Metabolic Rate. When you drink cold water, the body uses energy or calories to bring the water to your body temperature. As a result, it can support weight loss and improve your metabolic health.
You can also drink green tea to increase your metabolism. Green tea converts stored fat into free fatty acids and increase the amount of fat the body burns. While coffee positively affects metabolism and fat burning, caffeine might cause a temporary spike in blood pressure.
Get a Full Night’s Sleep
Sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance and increased blood glucose, which are the components of metabolic syndrome. Your metabolic system is thrown out of balance when you are sleep deprived. Poor sleep quality makes it more difficult for your body to metabolise glucose. It leads to weight gain and hormonal imbalance, significantly impacting your metabolic health.
Don’t Skip Meals
Most people skip meals, especially breakfast, hoping to lose weight. However, it is doing more harm than good. Eating the right amount of calories is necessary to match your Resting Metabolic Rate. When you cut too many calories, the body misinterprets that you are running out of food and starts to create fat stores to conserve energy. Eating a balanced breakfast improves your metabolism in the morning and keeps you energised throughout the day.
A good metabolism is essential for overall health and well-being. It is vital for sustaining basic life processes. There are several metabolic disorders that you may get if you do not take care of your metabolism. It is especially true for women as they experience drastic fluctuations in their hormone levels throughout their lives. It puts their metabolism at greater risk than men’s.
Consequently, women are at a greater risk than men of getting further health issues due to poor metabolism. These include cognitive impairment, increased blood glucose levels, skin issues, abnormal weight gain, and infertility. However, it is possible to manage these issues to a large extent with a proper diet and exercise.