The term metabolism, derived from the Greek language, simply means change or transformation. It relates to various processes within the body that convert food and other substances into energy and other metabolic byproducts used by the body. It is a necessary function that allows our bodies to use food and other resources to maintain the working parts, repair damage, heal injury and rid the body of toxins. In other words, metabolism is a necessary process, without which living organisms would die.
Metabolism aids in digestive function as well as absorption of nutrients. It is most affected by nutrition, hydration and physical activity. Each of these items is an imperative aspect of optimum metabolic health. When any one of these is lacking, the metabolic rate decreases. Consequently, weight loss and weight maintenance are directly related to healthy metabolism.
While lowering your calorie and fat intake may be important parts of weight loss, both decrease your metabolism. It is therefore essential to stimulate the metabolic rate through other means such as routine physical activity. It is not a good idea to skip meals or to reduce calories by an extreme amount, since decreased metabolism causes the body to burn fewer calories and less fat. It may also cause your body to store excess fat in reserve.
Metabolism is also the process the body uses to break down chemicals such as drugs. When you take medication, your body employs catabolic metabolism, to break down larger molecules into smaller ones that can be more readily absorbed. Anabolic metabolism is the opposite of catabolic. It uses enzymes to structure larger molecules from smaller ones.
Metabolism is an issue in regard to other substances such as nicotine. Nicotine tends to increase the metabolic rate, which is one of the reasons some people gain weight when they quit smoking. However, by stimulating the metabolic rate through other methods, weight gain may not be a threat. Quitting smoking is best for you, so look for other ways to increase your metabolism.
The body utilizes the many complex processes that make up metabolism to facilitate physical function, assist growth, aid in healing and in essence, support life.