Your body turns the food and liquid you consume into energy through a process known as metabolism. This intricate process releases the energy your body requires to function by combining calories from food and beverages with oxygen. Your body needs energy for all its processes, including breathing, blood circulation, regulating hormone levels, and cell growth and repair, even while resting. Your basal metabolic rate, or metabolism, is the number of calories your body consumes to perform these essential tasks. The term “metabolic health” refers to how efficiently our bodies make and use the energy produced by our diet through the collection of cellular processes known as metabolism.
Your diet shapes your metabolic health, metabolism, microbiota, exercise, stress, sleep, and mental health, as well as your age, sex, and genes. According to some experts, the absence of metabolic syndrome is a sign of metabolic wellness. It is a collection of risk factors that raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. High blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol, high blood fat, high blood sugar, and a big waistline are risk factors for metabolic syndrome. According to some, being metabolically healthy entails good health and a minimal chance of acquiring metabolic disorders.
Parameters That Affect Metabolic Health
Multiple factors can affect metabolic health. In some cases, it can be a combination of various factors. You can categorise these parameters into the following sections:
Muscle mass is the amount of muscle you have on your physique. Compared to fat, muscle requires more energy to function. Therefore, the more muscle mass you have, the more power your body needs merely to maintain itself. The best method for gaining and preserving bulk is resistance or strength training. Kilojoules (kg) are also quickly burned by muscles. Therefore, more muscle mass is frequently associated with faster metabolisms and higher calorie expenditure.
Your metabolic rate often slows down as you age. It is partly because of muscular tissue loss and hormonal and neurological changes. Loss of muscular tissue and modifications to the hormonal and neurological systems are to blame for this. On the other hand, children go through times of tremendous growth and metabolism during development.
Your genes might influence your metabolic rate to some extent. For example, some families’ BMR is higher than others, and some genetic illnesses alter metabolism. Thus, even though it does not entirely define metabolic health, it dramatically impacts it.
Exercise builds muscle mass and increases your metabolic processes so that even at rest, you burn kilojoules more quickly. Muscles that work hard require a lot of energy to burn. Exercise regularly to build muscle and train the body to burn calories more quickly, even at rest.
Hormones play a vital role in regulating metabolism. The hormonal and neurological systems regulate BMR. The rate at which the body burns calories can be affected by hormonal abnormalities like hypo- and hyperthyroidism.
The body has to work harder to maintain its average temperature in response to environmental changes like increasing heat or cold, which raises BMR. This, in turn, impacts the body’s metabolic health.
Body Size and Gender
Due to larger organs and fluid capacity, those with larger bodies have higher BMRs. In addition, men often have faster metabolism as compared to women. As a result, they have more muscle and less body fat.
Diet and Drugs
Drugs like antidepressants and steroids cause weight gain. Substances like caffeine and nicotine can raise your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is significantly influenced by what and how much of it you consume. A diet lacking in iodine, for instance, decreases thyroid function and lowers metabolism.
Cholesterol: An Overview
There is a waxy, fat-like molecule called cholesterol in all of our bodies’ cells. Your body requires cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D, and chemicals that aid in food digestion. The liver produces cholesterol. On top of that, we obtain cholesterol from animal-based diets. These include dairy products like butter, cheese, poultry and meat.
However, not all cholesterol is bad. It is needed by our body to produce hormones, vitamins, and new cells. But having too much cholesterol can be harmful. This is because they contain a lot of saturated and trans fats. Cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases like strokes. Cholesterol can combine with other chemicals inside the arteries to produce a hard, thick deposit. Atherosclerosis, a disorder that results from this, can cause the arteries to narrow and become less flexible. A heart attack or stroke may occur if a blood clot develops and plugs one of these constricted arteries. This is why it’s crucial to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
The two lipoproteins, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) are in charge of transporting cholesterol to and from the body’s cells in the blood.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein)
A healthy amount of HDL cholesterol may prevent heart attack and stroke, sometimes referred to as the “good” cholesterol. Additionally, it transports cholesterol back to the liver from other areas of your body. The liver then eliminates the cholesterol from your body. LDL cholesterol is transported by HDL from the arteries directly to the liver, where it is digested and eliminated from the body. It lessens the risk of vascular disease, heart attack, and stroke by preventing plaque accumulation in your arteries. For women, the goal for HDL cholesterol should be 55 mg/dl or above, while for men, it should be 45 mg/dl or above.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
Due to its role in the development of fatty deposits in arteries, people refer to LDL cholesterol as the “bad” cholesterol. LDL delivers cholesterol to your arteries, where it may accumulate in the lining of the blood vessels and cause atherosclerosis, a condition wherein artery plaque builds up. This can cause a heart attack or stroke by reducing blood supply to the heart muscle, and the muscles in the legs, or by abruptly closing an artery in the heart or brain. Only those with heart disease or its risk factors should have LDL cholesterol levels less than 100 mg/dL.
The most prevalent kind of fat in the body is triglycerides. They retain extra calories from your diet. They originate in food, particularly in butter, oils, and other fat you consume. These extra calories from the food you consume are converted into triglycerides by our bodies and stored as fat. The triglycerides are released when your body needs energy. Fat deposits within the artery walls are associated with high triglyceride levels, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, and low HDL (good) cholesterol, which raises the chance of a heart attack and stroke.
How Does Cholesterol Affect Your Metabolic Health?
Some of the elements that contribute to an increase in LDL include:
- Eating too many calories regularly, especially if you consume a lot of sweets.
- Having obesity or being overweight
- Certain medications
- Several genetic diseases
- Imbalance of hormones
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Intake of cigarettes and alcohol
- Poor diet
There is a direct link between cholesterol levels and metabolic health. Your metabolic health will improve if your cholesterol levels are within the normal range. However, if your cholesterol levels become out of control, it will affect the function of your metabolism. An excess of high cholesterol can also lead to a group of diseases called metabolic syndrome. This increases your chance of developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
The HealthifyMe Note:
The substance ‘cholesterol’ itself is not harmful. Your body requires cholesterol to generate hormones, vitamin D, and digestive juices. Additionally, cholesterol supports healthy organ function, but too much cholesterol may be detrimental. Over time, high cholesterol can harm your arteries, cause heart disease, and raise your risk of stroke. Moreover, a harmful buildup of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of the arteries can result in atherosclerosis.
Health Risks of Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels
Impact on Cardiovascular and Circulatory Systems
When your body produces too much LDL cholesterol, it starts to accumulate in your arteries, blocking them and lessening their flexibility. Atherosclerosis is the term used to describe artery hardening. Your heart must work harder to pump blood through stiff arteries since it doesn’t flow through them either. You can develop heart disease as plaque accumulates in your arteries over time. Coronary artery plaque accumulation can obstruct the passage of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. This could result in angina, or chest pain.
Angina is a brief interruption in blood flow, not a heart attack. However, it serves as a warning that you could have a heart attack. To entirely obstruct blood flow to your heart and cause a heart attack, an artery may continue to constrict, or a piece of the plaque may finally break off and form a clot. A stroke may result from this process if it happens in the brain or the arteries leading to the brain. Additionally, plaque can obstruct the arteries that provide blood to your legs, feet, and intestines. Peripheral arterial disease is what this is (PAD).
Impact on The Endocrine System
Hormones including oestrogen, testosterone, and cortisol are produced by the hormone-producing glands in your body using cholesterol. Thus, hormones can also impact the amount of cholesterol in your body.
HDL cholesterol levels increase, and LDL cholesterol levels decrease as oestrogen levels rise throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. This could contribute to a woman’s increased risk of heart disease following menopause when oestrogen levels drop. Furthermore, LDL cholesterol levels rise due to hypothyroidism, which results in reduced thyroid hormone production.
The opposite outcome resulting from having too much thyroid hormone is hyperthyroidism. Also, LDL cholesterol levels can rise due to androgen deprivation therapy, which lowers male hormone levels to limit prostate cancer progression. Growth hormone insufficiency can also cause LDL cholesterol levels to increase.
Impact on Nervous System
The human brain depends on cholesterol to function. In actuality, the brain contains around 25% of the total cholesterol in the body. The growth and protection of nerve cells, which allow the brain to connect with the rest of the body, depend on this fat. While some cholesterol is necessary for your brain to function at its best, too much of it can be harmful. An obstruction in blood flow caused by too much cholesterol in the arteries can cause strokes, which can damage certain regions of the brain and cause loss of memory, impaired movement, and difficulties speaking and swallowing, among other symptoms.
Health professionals also link memory loss and mental decline to high blood cholesterol. In addition, high blood cholesterol levels may hasten the development of beta-amyloid plaques. These clumpy protein deposits harm Alzheimer’s patient’s brains.
Impact on Digestive System
The generation of bile, a fluid that aids digestion and nutritional absorption in the intestines, requires cholesterol in the digestive tract. However, if your bile contains high cholesterol, the excess crystallises into hard stones in your gallbladder. Gallstones may cause severe pain.
Some of the common health risks are:
- Stones in the gallbladder
- Improper absorption of nutrients
- Blood flow restriction
- Heart attacks
- Brain and heart strokes
- Clogging of arteries
Ways to Prevent Cholesterol Spikes
Focus on Your Diet
Diet can make a lot of difference when it comes to prevention. Dietitians usually recommend foods containing monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts, canola oil, avocados, and nut butter. We also recommend polyunsaturated fats such as salmon, mackerel, herring and shellfish. It would be best if you avoided trans fats as they increase LDL. Some foods high in trans fat include pastries and other baked goods, fried fast foods, pizzas, chips and more. Soluble fibre such as oat cereals, beans and lentils, fruits, peas and flaxseeds are said to be good too.
Increased exercise helps lower cholesterol. The “good” cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), can be improved with moderate physical activity. Work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week, with your doctor’s approval. You can start to lose weight by increasing your physical activity, even for brief periods, multiple times a day.
- Daily brisk walking
- Taking a bicycle to work
- Playing a sport you enjoy
- Finding a workout partner or joining an exercise club to help you stay motivated.
Quit Smoking and Drinking
When you stop smoking, your HDL cholesterol level rises. The advantages appear right away. Your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal within 20 minutes of quitting cigarettes, reversing the cigarette-induced rise. Your blood circulation and lung function start to improve three months after stopping. You can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by half within a year if you quit smoking. If at all possible, quitting smoking can help counteract these adverse effects.
Drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of developing significant health issues such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and strokes. If you do consume alcohol, do so sparingly. That means that for healthy individuals, women of all ages and men older than 65 can have up to one drink per day, while males 65 and younger can have up to two drinks per day. Speak with your doctor about it as well.
Having even a few extra pounds makes your cholesterol higher. Minor adjustments add up. Replace your sugary drinks with tap water. Keep track of the calories while enjoying air-popped popcorn or pretzels as a snack. Find strategies to increase your everyday exercise, such as using the stairs rather than the elevator. During work breaks, go for walks. Increase your standing activity, such as cooking or drying clothes.
Sometimes adopting a healthy lifestyle change is insufficient to reduce cholesterol levels. Take the medication as directed while continuing to make healthy lifestyle changes if your doctor prescribes it to lower your cholesterol. Some products comprise a mix of drugs that work to lessen the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs from meals and the amount of cholesterol your liver produces. So, before beginning any medication, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Ways to Improve Metabolism
Even when you are not doing anything, your body continuously burns calories. People with more muscle have substantially higher resting metabolic rates. While each gram of fat only burns two calories daily, every kilogramme takes roughly six calories per day to maintain itself. Over time, even a modest difference might build up. For instance, your body’s muscles become active after a strength training exercise, increasing your metabolic rate daily.
Change Your Workout
Although aerobic exercise may not result in bulky muscles, it can speed up your metabolism after a workout. To succeed, you must exert effort. Compared to low or moderate-intensity sessions, high-intensity exercise causes a more significant and prolonged increase in resting metabolic rate. Try a more challenging class at the gym or incorporate brief jogging intervals into your daily stroll to reap the benefits.
Drink More Water
Your body requires water to metabolise calories. Your metabolism may slow down if you are even slightly dehydrated. Adults who consumed eight or more glasses of water daily burnt more calories than those who only drank four. Before every meal and snack, sip a glass of water or another unsweetened beverage to stay hydrated.
Eat More Proteins
Protein causes your body to expend many more calories in digestion than fat or carbohydrates. Hence, lean, protein-rich foods can increase metabolism at lunchtime if you substitute some carbs as part of a balanced diet. Lean beef, turkey, salmon, tofu, white meat chicken, almonds, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products are all excellent protein sources.
Add More Spices to Your Food
Spicy meals contain natural compounds that might accelerate your metabolism. Your metabolic rate can increase by cooking with a spoonful of chopped red or green chilli pepper. Although the effect is probably just transient, eating spicy food frequently may have long-term advantages. Add red pepper flakes to stews, chilli, and pasta recipes for a rapid boost.
Have More Green Tea and Oolong Tea
Research demonstrates that oolong and green teas speed up metabolism and fat burning. The benefits of caffeine and catechins, which studies establish to stimulate the metabolism for a couple of hours, can be obtained by drinking green or oolong tea. When paired with exercise, these teas can transform some of the body’s stored fat into free fatty acids, enhancing fat burning. Consuming these teas may help with weight loss and maintenance because they are low in calories.
The risk of obesity significantly increases when people don’t get enough sleep. The detrimental effects of sleep loss on metabolism may contribute to this. Nutritionists associate a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes with insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels, which you can connect to sleep deprivation. Moreover, the body releases the hormone ghrelin when one doesn’t get enough sleep, which might make one feel hungry. Leptin, a hormone that aids in making one feel full, is also released less frequently. Making sure that these hormones are in balance can be achieved by getting enough sleep. One can avoid overeating by doing this.
Stress has an impact on hormone levels and can increase cortisol production. A hormone called cortisol aids in controlling appetite. Researchers discovered elevated cortisol levels among disordered eaters in 2011. Disordered eating, such as dietary restriction and specific weight worries, can result in unhealthy eating habits that might interfere with metabolism. Stress and sleep quality, which can affect metabolism, are tightly associated.
The HealthifyMe Note:
High cholesterol can contribute to the buildup of plaques in your arteries. These plagues can cause your arteries to narrow and harden, leading to a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problems. Obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, hypercholesterolemia, and high blood pressure, are conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.
Increased cholesterol is bad for the body, as has repeatedly been shown. It not only has adverse health effects but also impacts our metabolic wellness. The relationship between cholesterol and metabolic health is inverse since elevated cholesterol slows metabolism. You can boost your metabolism by making minor lifestyle adjustments and adopting the aforementioned cholesterol-lowering advice into your daily routine. If losing weight is your aim, a faster metabolism can give you more energy while assisting you. In the end, this also lowers cholesterol, continuing the positive cycle of health.