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Why is Metabolism Important?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Metabolism is important because it is literally the powerhouse of the body, providing energy to keep the body going. In fact, many science and biology dictionaries describe metabolism as a process which is necessary to sustain life. Without metabolism, living organisms will die, and errors in metabolic processes can cause health problems such as diabetes, in which the body fails to metabolize blood sugar properly.

Living organisms are in a constant state of flux. To do anything, from firing a neuron to alert the brain that smoke is in the air to generating an extra burst of power to pull ahead in a foot race, the body needs energy. This energy is provided through metabolism, in which the body breaks down the substances ingested, and rebuilds them into useful substances, including raw energy and components which can be used to transport energy from place to place.

Likening metabolism to a powerhouse is very accurate, because this process involves the generation, storage, and transmission of power, and like an electrical grid, the body is very vulnerable to metabolic imbalances. For example, if someone metabolizes food too quickly, he or she tends to remain very thin, because the body cannot store energy in fats and muscle. Conversely, people who metabolize slowly may not be able to access the energy they need, because their bodies may not have generated it yet.

Some people have genetic conditions which cause problems with their metabolisms. These inborn errors of metabolism can include things like lacking enzymes which are necessary to break down food, and they often require medical intervention to be corrected. Metabolic problems can also be acquired, as in the case of someone who develops diabetes late in life, or in the case of someone with an eating disorder who causes permanent damage to the metabolism through consistent starvation.

One of the most common reasons to explore the metabolism is because someone is trying to build up strength for athletics, or to lose weight. Understanding how the metabolism works is critical for both of these tasks, as people can engage in activities which will support the metabolism to accomplish the desired task, or they can undermine their metabolic processes, making it harder.

Everyone's "powerhouse" is slightly different, which is one reason why there can be a lot of physical diversity between people who have similar diet and exercise habits. Finding one's own metabolic rates can be valuable for maintaining general health, as one can make lifestyle adjustments to cater to the specifics of the body.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By oasis11 — On Dec 23, 2010

GreenWeaver-I think that protein effects metabolism in a positive way. Eating lean protein tends to raise your metabolism and keeps you fuller longer because it takes longer for the protein to be absorbed in your system.

This is why a lot of weight lifters take in large amounts of protein because the increase in metabolism burns more fat and creates larger muscles.

This is another reason why the body builders use these protein shakes in order to raise their metabolism and cut the fat out of their body.

By GreenWeaver — On Dec 22, 2010

Bhutan-I just wanted to say that people with a slow metabolism also have low energy and develop dry skin. Sometimes they can receive relief with vitamin B12 shots that will increase their level of energy.

A low metabolism can also lead to depression in some cases, so it is a good idea to have your hormones checked out.

Thyroid tests can determine if there is a problem with the metabolism or not. Changes in metabolism often occur during pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause.

By Bhutan — On Dec 20, 2010

An increase in metabolism is important in order to continue to lose weight. Metabolism is important because it helps us burn calories necessary to promote a healthy weight.

If we have problems with our thyroid which regulates metabolism we could have metabolism reactions such as increased weight gain or the inability to gain weight.

People with a hypothyroid have a slower than average metabolic rate and tend to gain weight easily.

These people usually have to have their thyroid checked and need to use medication to create a normal metabolic rate. In addition, they are usually asked to exercise daily and avoid foods laden with sugar or those that are highly processed.

These types of foods tend to slow the metabolism even more which is why they need to be avoided.

Those afflicted with a hyperthyroid have the opposite problem. They seem to be able to eat whatever they want without ever gaining weight. People afflicted with this condition are usually underweight because their metabolic rate is so fast that they have difficulty gaining weight despite their caloric intake.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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