What is Metabolism? Why do we need to speed it up?
Metabolism refers to all kinds of biochemical activities necessary for the maintenance of life in living things. Metabolism is closely related to weight, general health, and even life expectancy.
The heart of metabolism is the mitochondria in the trillions of cells in the body. Mitochondria convert glucose, the primary fuel of metabolism, together with oxygen into Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule. The real fuel of metabolism is ATP.
The more and healthier the mitochondria, the higher the energy level. After the growth and development process is complete, which is between the ages of 16 and 20, there are quadrillions of mitochondria in the trillions of cells in the body at this age. At these ages, the body and metabolism are like a high-performance tool and this is the reason for the endless energy in young people.
The resting metabolic level is called Basal Metabolism. Basal metabolism is the minimum energy level required to keep the body temperature constant at 36.5 degrees even when lying still, to breathe continuously and for the brain and other organs to work.
Basal metabolism level can vary greatly from person to person, according to age and body structure. Basal metabolism accounts for about 60 - 70 percent of total daily energy expenditure, the remaining 30 percent is spent on daily activities. The most important factor that creates basal metabolism is the muscles, which are the heating boiler of the body, metabolism. Mitochondria in muscles and other cells constantly work to provide this energy level.
Unfortunately, the seemingly endless energy in young people does not last very long. The most important change that starts from the age of 30 is the development of sarcopenia, that is, muscle loss, due to the decrease in the growth hormone somatotropin in the brain. From the age of 30, approximately one percent of the muscle mass is lost every year. If no special precautions are taken and the muscle mass is not preserved, the metabolism slows down as a result.
The second important change seen with aging is the decrease in the number and function of mitochondria. As a result of these changes, metabolism begins to slow down. This is the most important reason for weight gain starting from the 30s, which was not a problem before.
Detailed reading:Pathogenesis and Management of Sarcopenia
The short answer to the question "Is it possible to speed up the metabolism?" is yes. Although it is not possible to reverse age and time, it is possible to slow down the above-mentioned changes and preserve metabolism.
The most important factor related to metabolism is muscle mass. Muscles are like the heating boiler of metabolism, the more alive and lively they are, the faster the metabolism. An active life and regular sports are the only ways to preserve muscle mass. Walking, swimming, gymnastics, light weight and resistance exercises are very important for maintaining muscle mass as well as helping weight control. It should be aimed to walk for at least 45 minutes a day and should be included in the program of exercises suitable for the person's structure.
Another very important issue in terms of metabolism is sleep. A quality sleep
is essential for a healthy metabolism.
There are also foods that speed up metabolism. For example, one of the extraordinary benefits of coffee is to speed up the metabolism. It is of great benefit to include two cups of coffee a day in the nutrition program. In second place is hot pepper. It has been scientifically shown that a substance called Capsaicin, which gives the hot pepper its bitterness, accelerates the metabolism. These studies have shown that people who regularly eat bitters burn an additional 50 calories per day. In third place is green tea. In addition to being healthy thanks to the high amount of antioxidants in green tea content, it has been scientifically shown that the substance called EGCG has fat-burning and metabolism-accelerating effects. It is very important for metabolism that one of the two or three teas drunk a day is green tea.
Another factor is a diet rich in antioxidants
. As described above, mitochondria are the energy factories of cells and metabolism. In this process, mitochondria create energy by using glucose and oxygen. However, as a result of this process, side-effects, called free oxygen radicals, that damage tissues are produced. Free oxygen radicals are oxidants and their antidotes are antioxidants. Therefore, a diet rich in antioxidants is very important in terms of protecting mitochondria and our health against free radicals.
It is useful to remember a few foods rich in antioxidants, green vegetables, especially broccoli and spinach, dark fruits such as pomegranate, blackberry and blueberry, citrus fruits such as orange grapefruit, all kinds of vegetables, all kinds of salads and spices.
The most important application for metabolic health is fasting. The benefit of fasting
is causing autophagy in cells. Autophagy is a cleaning operation inside the cells. Lysosomes, which are the scavengers of the cells, eat the proteins, fat accumulations and obsolete organelles in the cells at certain periods and use them as energy, and ensure that new ones are made in their place. One of the things that occurs within the scope of autophagy is Mitophagy. Lysosomes, which are the scavengers of the cells, also eat the mitochondria, which have become old, worn out, and whose DNA has deteriorated over time, and use them as energy ensuring that new ones are made instead. Mitophagy is one of the most important factors that keeps energy metabolism alive. At the very least, it is of great benefit to practice intermittent fasting.
Detailed reading:The effect of fasting or calorie restriction on mitophagy induction
A Molecular Approach to Mitophagy and Mitochondrial Dynamics
Another very important factor for intracellular energy metabolism is the element magnesium. Magnesium plays a very important role in energy reactions in mitochondria. Today, magnesium deficiency is frequently seen due to an unbalanced and unhealthy diet. If fatigue or lack of energy is felt, it can be very useful to have the magnesium value checked in the blood. Magnesium can easily be supplemented with medications. Foods rich in magnesium include nuts, pumpkin seeds, lentils, spinach, oily fish and dark chocolate.
Detailed reading:Cellular Magnesium Homeostasis
Another very interesting method in terms of metabolic health is sauna application. Sauna enjoyment is an application that is widely practiced especially in northern European countries, provides psychological relief, purifies toxins through sweating, is good for muscle and bone pain, and even has an important effect on reducing hypertension
. Scientific studies also confirm these effects. Another important effect of sauna practice is that the heat applied to the muscles for a long time, which is called Heat Stress Response, causes an improvement in the functions of mitochondria and an increase in the number of mitochondria.
Metabolism, in short, refers to the energy-producing capacity of mitochondria in cells, especially our muscles. Having a high level of metabolism is very important not only in energy level, but also in weight control and protection against insulin resistance and diabetes that may develop due to weight. In order to prevent sarcopenia, i.e. muscle loss, which begins to appear after the age of 30, it is very important to exercise regularly, do sports, and get enough and quality sleep.
In order to protect mitochondria, a diet rich in antioxidants, fruit, vegetables and salads, intermittent fasting a few days a week, and the occasional sauna pleasure will be perfect.
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