In this episode of SageHealth TV, I’m going to be talking about how to improve your metabolism. When I work with my patients on metabolic support, it is important to me to empower my patients to make lifestyle changes that will last a lifetime as opposed to rapid weight loss that is often short lived. We want to be strong, fit, and healthy as we age. So, supporting our metabolism means improving our cardiovascular health, preventing diabetes and high cholesterol, and feeling strong, fit and healthy.
Here are just a few things that can affect metabolism:
1) Thyroid Health:
Your thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism. Having too few thyroid hormones can slow your metabolism causing weight gain and difficulty losing weight, and vice versa. Please check out my episode on thyroid health.
Where we are carrying our weight can tell us a lot about what is going with our hormones. For instance, for females if you find yourself gaining weight around your hips, thighs and breasts this could be a sign that your estrogen levels are high. This is called estrogen dominance, which can happen because estrogen is too high, or progesterone levels are too low. We want a healthy balance between estrogen and progesterone. And if you feel like you are carrying most of your weight in your abdomen and waist, this could be a sign of adrenal dysfunction and cortisol levels being too high due to stress. And for men, if testosterone levels are low you may find that it’s harder to lose weight or gain muscle mass. Low testosterone levels can contribute to diabetes and high cholesterol.
3) Diabetes and Cholesterol Screening:
Depending on your age, screening for diabetes and high cholesterol should be done at least annually. Hemoglobin A1c – which is a marker for glucose metabolism in the last 3 months – and fasting glucose is commonly ordered as a diabetes screen. There are two other markers that I like to look at and that is insulin and leptin; I find these two more sensitive in detecting insulin resistance earlier than HgA1c and fasting glucose. Insulin is released by your pancreas to help your body digest glucose, and it is increased by a high carbohydrate diet and lack of exercise which long term can cause insulin resistance. This is when the cells in our body no longer respond to insulin, and glucose levels are so high causing diabetes. On the other hand, leptin is released to tell our body that it is full and so we stop eating. Leptin increases with stress, overeating, lack of sun exposure, and insulin resistance. If we continue to live an unhealthy lifestyle, then our bodies can become leptin resistant making it harder to sense when you are satiated causing you to overeat more and gain weight.
The body will produce belly fat and visceral fat if our insulin levels are high. Insulin resistance can also cause an increased level of estrogen which may lead to breast cancer in women, but it is not known what the correlation between leptin resistance and obesity means for men’s health.
There are many ways you can improve your metabolism:
General Tips on How to Support Metabolic Health:
Exercise: The general recommendation is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise/ movement 5 times a week. I like to be a little more specific with this recommendation and say strength train 3 – 4 times a week, and HIIT (high interval intensity training) 1 – 2 times a week. Strength training can be body weight exercises (i.e. yoga, pilates) or weight lifting. Strength training does not only just promote strong joints and posture, but also research shows that strengthening large muscle groups like the quads helps with glucose metabolism and preventing insulin resistance. HIIT training helps with glucose metabolism, cardiovascular support, and fat loss. Pick something that you enjoy because if you are not having fun then the likelihood of you continuing to exercise regularly is low. So this could be going on a run, Zumba, hike, mountain biking, studio cycling, playing basketball whatever you like!
Paleo/ Whole Foods diet: I love the paleo diet because unlike other diets it promotes eating whole foods, avoiding processed foods, and avoiding common food intolerances such as dairy, gluten, peanuts, and soy. It really emphasizes eating quality food rather than stressing over how much you are eating.
Sleep 8 – 9 hours a night: Insufficiency in sleep can lead to impaired glucose metabolism, increased cortisol, and reduced leptin. Ultimately, this will lead to insulin resistance and increase your risk for developing metabolic syndromes like diabetes and high cholesterol.
There are a lot of different supplements that can help with improving your metabolic state like carnitine, chromium, alpha lipoic acid, B vitamins, and adaptogenic herbs like ginseng. But again this is all subjective to a person’s symptoms, family and personal medical history, and lab results. So consider scheduling an appointment with a naturopathic physician or functional medicine doctor, and take charge of your health. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and please check out our other episodes. If you found this information helpful, please like, subscribe, and share with your family and friends.
See ya next time!
In good health,
Dr. Julieann Murella ND, LAc