written by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD
What is metabolism?
- The term metabolism comes from a Greek word for “change”.
- Your metabolism transforms the food you eat into energy via a kaleidoscope of life sustaining chemical reactions that mostly occur at the level of the cell.
- Metabolism affects much more than how many calories you can consume each day without gaining weight
- It influences the health of your entire body.
- We need to broaden our concept of metabolism because it literally controls everything, every biological activity down to each and every cell membrane.
- Your body has about 37 trillion cells, and not one of them can function well if its membranes are compromised. Even though you’re not aware of it, metabolic processes are going on in your body around the clock.
Everything is controlled at the cellular level – appetite, fat burning, fat storage, energy production, hormones, tissue repair, recovery from illness or injury, resistance to disease, and even aging itself.
You can thank your metabolism for your body’s ability to detoxify itself.
Your diet matters because metabolic processes depend upon the nutrients you eat.
If you have a weight problem, the difference between you and your friend who seems to eat anything and never gain a kilo is that she has a more optimized metabolism – many people develop a toxic metabolism – which occurs when those critical chemical reactions go awry. Your body depends on certain nutrients to perform those basic functions, and if you can’t get them, or for some reason your body can’t use them, the systems begin to break down.
It’s important to realise that excessive weight gain is just a symptom of a deeper problem – your body’s way of clueing you in that something is wrong. And weight gain isn’t the only red flag!
It can mbe blood markers as in blood glucose elevation, thyroid function can be low or other symptoms your metabolism sends out SOS calls.
What we learned from the biggest loser:
Although this is the most extreme account, most people regain at least some of the weight they’ve lost from dieting. The more weight you have to lose, the larger your metabolic rate drop may be – whether you exercise or not. Your body is absolutely relentless in its determination to regain its metabolic set point.
Your weight is determined, at least in part, by a long standing relationship between energy intake and output. It is controlled by a complex network of hormones.
These hormones exert profound effects in your brain, especially the hypothalamus, which strongly influences your diet and appetite. Think of this as your internal body weight thermostat. How this thermostat works is not well understood, but we do know it is influenced by a multitude of factors, such as activity level, diet, appetite, lifestyle habits, living situation, psychological factors, overall health, and genetics.
When you try to change your weight, your body’s natural tendency is to fight back so as to maintain homeostasis, or its set point. It will try to manipulate you into eating more food and oftentimes the wrong food.
This explains why it is difficult for most people to maintain a weight that is different from their set point – and the greater difference, the more the body pushes back.
The bottom line here is that regaining lost weight does not mean that you are a failure – you’re simply missing a metabolic link!
Metabolism is controlled by hormones, and hormones all operate at the level of the cell membrane. In showdowns between hormones and willpower, hormones always win – until you learn how to outsmart them!
How to rescue your metabolism :
1. Revamp your fats –
Eating enough omega – 6 fat is vitally important to your metabolism and the health of your cell membranes, and it’s crucial to eat the right kinds.
The optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 4:1
Our mitochondria uses omega-6’s almost exclusively
Be aware not to eat processed foods, which are simply loaded with overheated, ultra refined oils.
The instant you eat them, your body inserts these chemically adulterated fats into your cell membranes. Toxic omega-6’s are indeed pro-inflammatory and deliver none of the health benefits of real omega-6’s.
Your body cannot make its cells without dietary fat.
- Your body requires fat for hormone production, cell messaging, and keeping inflammation at bay.
- Fats are crucial to the function of your heart, brain, and nervous system.
- Most important, fats are what make up your cell membranes.
Proper dietary fats make membranes more fluid and efficient. Toxins also tend to attach to the cell membranes, and fortunately the same membrane-stabilizing diet helps remove them. Hormone receptors are attached and stabilized by little structures called lipid rafts, which become damaged by inflammation.
Lipid rafts are made of saturated fat and cholesterol (so these two fats can literally heal your hormones).
Connection between inflammation and weight loss resistance:
- Chronic inflammation means your immune system is staying activated, and this creates a cascade of unwanted effects in your body, including elevated insulin, among other things.
- Inflammation makes chemical signals go awry. Your body is under stress so it begins building up its fat reserves. Not only are fat cells little energy warehouses, but they also send out signals that keep the immune system in overdrive.
- Higher inflammation means more fat cells, and more fat cells lead to higher inflammation – it’s a vicious cycle!
- Spare tires stack up around your middle.
- Studies show that as your weight increases, so does inflammation.
2. Restore your gallbladder –
When it comes to reversing a toxic metabolism and losing stubborn extra body fat, the importance of bile and the gallbladder cannot be overstated. Even though many physicians write off the gallbladder as a “throwaway organ” they are dead wrong.
Your gallbladder performs many essential physiological functions that dramatically affect metabolism.
Bile is made in the liver for the purposes of breaking down the fats you eat which is so critical for healthy cell membrane and it helps escort toxins to be flushed out of your liver and out of your body.
* If your liver can’t clean fats, then it most likely cannot break down hormones or other metabolic waste products either.
The gallbladder and bile:
- Your gallbladder is your liver’s best friend and vital to its operation.
- The liver secretes about a litre and a half of bile a day, storing and concentrating it in your gallbladder.
- Bile breaks down dietary fats into smaller particles that are more digestible and absorbable.
- When you eat fats, bile is released from your gallbladder into your intestine via the bile duct.
Decades of low fat and no-fat diets with processed foods, with toxic exposures, have quietly damaged our gallbladder function, leading to think, over concentrated, and congested bile – toxic bile.
Toxic bile is thick, sticky bile that has stopped flowing freely, and it’s no longer able to perform its duties.
Excess cholesterol, high toxin load, clogged bile ducts or insufficient nutrients that keep it thin and flowing all lead to toxic bile.
Studies also link elevated blood sugar levels to thicker bile and gallstone function.
Those excess toxins get stored in your fat cells – this can promote cellulite by increasing deposition of body fat and reducing collagen formation.
Toxic bile is associated with numerous health problems, including obesity, hormone imbalance, hypothyroidism, autoimmune issues and more.
The beauty of bitters:
- Many plant foods qualify as bitters.
- Studies suggest bitters “get your juices flowing” (literally) by stimulating the release of bile, as well as saliva.
- In some cases some research suggests we only need to taste them not eat them for them to be effective, which makes bitters effective in relatively small doses.
Fruits and vegetables :-Asparagus, bitter melon,beets, cabbage, daikon radish, lime, mustard greens, rhubarb root, wild lettuce, artichoke, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, grapefruit, cucumbers, spinach, watercress, brussels sprout, turnips, rocket plus many more.
Herbs and spices:– Chamomile, fenugreek seeds, thyme, saffron, mint, basil, caraway, chicory root, horseradish, turmeric, milk thistles, cardamon, cinnamon, fennel plus more.
Others:– cacao, bitter orange, coffee, sesame, vinegar, aloe vera, apricot seeds plus more
Herbal bitters are available as well, and can significantly boost digestion.
3. Rebuild your muscles –
- Many individuals unknowingly suffer from insufficient stomach acid.
- Protein digestion requires adequate stomach acid and digestive enzymes, and for many these are lacking to nonexistent.
- It’s common for people to have a 40% decrease in stomach acid production by the time they’re in their 30’s, and another 50% decrease by the age of 70.
- This leads to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gas, bloating, nausea and other symptoms (including crankiness).
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, so by increasing your consumption of high-quality proteins and amino acids, your body will receive nutrients it requires to make muscle and other lean body tissues.
Your body can’t store amino acids as it can carbohydrates and fats, so eating protein daily is imperative
No matter how great your diet or supplements, none of this matters if your digestive system itself is unhealthy, so you need to restore the health of your gastrointestinal tract.
Triggers fat burning and muscle building. It also helps stabilize your insulin and blood sugar levels, maintain energy, melt off body fat, and stave off the crave.
- Protein’s role extends well beyond metabolism.
- Proteins are used to make everything from muscles and vital organs to hormones and enzymes.
- Proteins also play an important role in dexoficiation – helping transport waste to your liver.
Getting enough dietary protein spares lean body mass so that your body begins breaking down its lean body mass for energy, as well as harvesting the amino acids it needs for routine tissue repairs. Not only does it obtain these proteins from your skeletal muscles but also from your organs – including your heart muscle,
Unfortunately when people diet they often wind up with less muscle mass than they started with – and of course this is the last thing you want. Your muscle cells shed proteins everyday that your body must replace.
Low calorie diets tend to alter the hormonal signals that stimulate muscle building. When dieting, your body is less likely to use the free amino acids in your bloodstream for muscle growth and repair, particularly if protein intake is too low.
You burn more energy digesting protein than carbohydrates, even though both contain the same calories. 20 – 35 of every 100 protein calories are burned up in the digestive process (this is known as the thermic effect).
Protein also benefits your blood sugar. Unlike when you eat carbohydrates, protein stimulates the release of glucagon, a hormone that helps you burn previously stored fat. Glucagon has the opposite effect of insulin and inhibits its release.
It causes your body to release stored carbohydrates and fat, whereas insulin tells your body to store it. By eating protein throughout the day, you are keeping your body in glucagon production mode.
Excess protein stresses the kidneys and liver, which must work hard to get rid of it. If protein is extreme (over 170gm of protein at a time) your body can build up ammonia, a toxic waste product, so be careful on the levels of protein.
4. Repair your gut –
Individuals with high intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”) are much more susceptible to accumulation of abdominal fat, hormone imbalance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. An imbalanced microbiome is directly linked to obesity and weight loss resistance. Your metabolism is impacted by the overall number of microorganisms living in your digestive tract, as well as their diversity.
Scientists are now realising the importance of the microbiome, a vast army of health-sustaining microorganisms that populate the gut and are critical to our digestion.
These cells can be under attack by environmental toxins, poor diet, parasitic infections, hormone imbalances, antibiotics and other drugs, as well as emotional stress.
This can lead to dysbiosis (imbalance of the gut flora).
Dysbiosis can cause leaky gut syndrome, food allergies, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), irritable bowel, constipation and diarrhea, fatigue, skin problems, increased toxicity, and all the problems that come from increased toxic body burden – diabetes, heart disease, dementia, arthritis, and auto-immune diseases.
Your microbiome helps control your pH balance and cholesterol levels.
Healthy gut bacteria also increase bile production and help regulate your cholesterol levels. In your colon, they convert primary bile acids into secondary bile acids, which improves reabsorption rates.
About 95% of bile should be recycled, absorbed through intestinal walls and returned to the liver and bile increases the survival rate of good bacteria in your colon while suppressing the bad.
The hormone connection
Your microbiome profoundly influences your hormone status.
When you have dysbiosis (too many pathogenic organisms), you will experience appetite changes because those pathogens dramatically influence your hunger hormones.
Digestive disorders and hormone problems go hand in hand.
- Estrogen and progesterone influence digestion, which may be why digestive disorders are more common among women.
- Problems tend to be worse during the latter half of the menstrual cycle (luteal phase) when transit time slows, with a sharp rise in digestive complaints just before the onset of the menses.
- Women also report a digestive slowdown during menopause and perimenopause.
The gut-brain connection:
Have you ever had “butterflies” in your stomach or experienced an episode of diarrhea from extreme performance anxiety?
This is your second brain.
In your stomach lies your enteric nervous system (ENS), which senses and reacts to any perceived threat. SIgnals travel from your gut to your brain along the vagus nerve – this is the gut-brain axis.
The gut microbiome can affect the brain’s hormones and other signaling mechanisms, reflexes, emotions, behaviour, and influence appetite.
5. Reduce toxic load –
Learn and be aware of the toxins in and around your home, these poison your body and have dramatic health effects.
- Every cell in your body listens to your thyroid to manage its metabolism.
- Iodine is critical for thyroid function.
- Because it’s our cells that do all the work, real detox must occur at cellular level.
- Your cells must be able to move nutrients in and toxins out to stay clean and healthy.
- Although detoxification is key to staying slim, it’s probable the most neglected and misunderstanding aspect of self-care.
- A true detox must occur on a daily basis to prevent toxins from building up in the first place.
- Once they accumulate, they poison and incapacitate your cells, drive up inflammation, and make a hot mess of your hormones.
Bile is a major vehicle for detox, grabbing and binding toxins for elimination in the stool.
Most detox programs focus on bowel regularity, as it’s the last stop on the way out of the body. If you don’t use your bowels and poisons remain in the colon, backed up, the toxins are in contact with your intestinal wall for far too long, increasing your risk of reabsorption.
If you have a leaky gut, then your blood is absorbing more toxins from your digestive tract in the first place, which increases the strain on all the other organs that have to clean up the mess.
Food to help detox:
- Brazil nuts
- Dandelion root
- This is a key player in the following biochemical processes, which are all involved in your metabolism:
maintenance of cell membrane structure
- Enhancing permeability of membranes, including membranes in the skin, digestive tract, and blood brain barrier.
- Prevention of toxins from entering the cell.
- Cholesterol transport and synthesis
Where to get linoleic acid : hemp seeds and hemp oil, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and oil, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, grass-pastured dairy.
Alpha-linolenic acid is the omega-3 parent essential oil, and comes from plants, with the highest levels found in flaxseed, chia seed, and pumpkin seed oils.
Also found in clary sage oil, sacha inchi seeds, walnuts and walnut oil, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, leafy green vegetables, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, kale, watercress, algae oil.
BROWN FAT AND WHITE FAT
There are essentially two kinds of fat cells in your body: brown fat and white fat. White fat is the insulting fat layer under your sin that stores excess calories. Brown fat is the special fat-burning tissue that burns excess calories for heat rather than energy. In other words, brown fat is metabolically active.
Although brown fat composes 10% or less of your total body fat, it burns one fourth of all the calories burned by your other fat tissues combined.
When activated, brown fat consumes a large quantity of glucose from your bloodstream, helping to keep your blood sugar levels nice and low.
Another difference between white and brown fat is that white fat produces pro-inflammatory factors but brown fat generates anti-inflammatory one. Inflammation often leads to weight gain and further metabolic slowdown.
As we age we lose brown fat, more whit fat accumulates and the less metabolically active our brown fat becomes.
Thin individuals simply have more “activated” brown fat than so overweight individuals. The good news is that you can reactivate your brown fat if you know the right tricks: –
GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) is a special polyunsaturated fatty acid and promotes fat burning by activating your brown fat.
GLA is a brown fat reactivator, giving your mitochondria a boost and causing your body to burn, rather than store, more energy. It also induces feelings of fullness by raising serotonin levels and reducing inflammation, lower blood pressure, quiet PMS, and possibly slow the spread of certain drug-resistant cancers.
A steady supple of GLA helps skin retain its moisture to stay supple and smooth.
Where to get it: seed oils, black currant seed oil, evening primrose, hemp seeds and acai berries. (Black currant best balance and hemp seeds or oil can get your weight loss started).
CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID (CLA)
Good to shunt fat away from your belly, and some studies are showing that CLA may do the following:
- Reduce belly fat, independent of food intake
- Activate brown fat
- Activate thermogenesis
- Increase mitochondrial density in white fat
- Preserve lean body mass
- Reduce appetite
- Balance leptin (the satiety hormone)
- Help prevent osteoporosis
- Reduce inflammation
- Inhibit growth of cancer cells (breast, colorectal, lung, skin, stomach)
Where to get it: mainly in animal products, white button mushrooms, and pomegranate seed oil.
FUN FACT: Macadamia nuts
They have a unique monounsaturated fatty acid called omega-7, which contains palmitoleic acid, is a dynamo when it comes to battling the bulge. It has been shown to reduce insulin resistance, lower blood sugar, suppress fat storage, reduce LDL, raise HDL, and be a powerful suppressor inflammation.
It even helps build collagen.
This omega-7 is also found in deep sea anchovies.
KETO AND PALEO DIETS:
These are the new focus, but some people do not feel good on these diets, they feel worse not better, not realising the real problem isn’t the higher-fat diet, but instead compromised gallbladder function and sluggish bile.
Bile is the missing link – you simply can’t be healthy without it.
Together, your liver and gallbladder make up your hepatic system.
When your hepatic system is functioning well, you’ll have good circulation, clean blood, and a healthy cellular metabolism.
Many foods and lifestyle factors, such as refined sugar and grains, unhealthy fats, too little fibre, too much alcohol and caffeine, medications, and emotional stress, are quite hard on the liver.
A fatty liver is a toxic liver –
If you have a roll of belly fat, you may have a fatty liver. When your liver becomes clogged up with pollutants and metabolic waste, not only does fat accumulate in and around it, but also around your other organs and throughout the body.
Cellulite, weight gain, and increased visceral fat are all signs your liver may be suffering from toxic overload, and this is really a downer for your metabolism.
You will lose excess body fat only when your hepatic function is restored.
If you begin experiencing nausea, vomiting, pain, fatigue, GERD, bitter taste in mouth after eating, light-coloured floating stools, hemorrhoids, inability to lose weight, varicose veins this can be from formation of gallstones that cause the gallbladder to become inflamed.
If gallstones go on the move, they sometimes get stuck in the gallbladder opening or in the bile duct, and cause severe upper abdominal pain in the centre, or just right of centre.
Typically pain begins an hour after eating, especially after a high fat meal, and lasts a few hours before subsiding although may continue in waves.
Getting your gallbladder out is like the holding tank removed, bile has nowhere to go except straight into your small intestine in a continuous trickle, regardless of the presence or absence of dietary fat. This compromises your ability to digest fats properly, resulting in nutritional deficiencies and expanding waistlines.
GIVE GALLSTONES THE BOOT
If you have symptoms of impaired fat digestion, such as nausea, bloating, constipation, or pale stools, or if you’ve had your gallbladder removed then it’s wise to increase your intake of bile building foods and consider supplements to improve bile flow.
Few people realise that sluggish bile can actually drag down your thyroid. If you’re not absorbing fats, you can’t make thyroid hormone – period!
Around 80% of women over the age of 40 suffer from insufficient, poor – quality bile, and suboptimal bile flow and sluggish thyroid share many of the same symptoms, including fatigue, weight gain, digestive issues, constipation, leptin resistance, dry skin, and many more.
Evidence is mounting that hypothyroidism is linked to congested bile.
Women have an increased risk of bile problems and gallstones because estrogen stimulates the liver to remove more cholesterol from the blood and divert it into the bile, causing bile to thicken.
Elevated blood sugars further complicate the problem.
It’s no surprise that 25% of women have gallstones by the age of 60 and 50% have them by age 75.
It’s a vicious cycle – once your bile has thickened, it’s less able to break down excess estrogen.
Women high in estrogen can become estrogen dominant also caused by contraception, food additives, pesticides and can lead to a wide range of issues.
Estrogen is necessary for serotonin production by affecting how the body metabolizes tryptophan, serotonins precursor.
Serotonin deficiency can lead to food cravings, weight gain and depression.
In addition to contributing to body fat, estrogen dominance is notorious for causing “false fat”.
False fat is fluid trapped in body tissues that contributes to bloating, puffiness and cellulite. Many women can carry an extra 4-6kg of it. Some are salt sensitive, so be aware of the salt you consume (sea salt or himalayan) Include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, which tend to be rich in potassium.
We tend to lose more muscle mass with age, which is known as sarcopenia, so as we get older, our protein requirements will change.
Declining muscle mass often begins typically in our thirties. With sarcopenia comes weight gain, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome.
Sarcopenia correlates strongly with disability, poor quality of life, and earlier death – in other words, lean body mass is crucial to your health and longevity.
Amino acids : the missing link for weight loss
Roughly 300 types of amino acids occur in nature, but only 22 are used for the body.
Out of these 22, there are three types:
essential amino acids EAA – your body does not make these , you need to get from your diet
non-essential amino acids – can be manufactured by your body
conditionally essential amino acids – can be manufactured unless you are ill or stressed.
Because proteins have so many functions, they are constantly being “repurposed” by your body, broken down, and replaced.
They are disassembled into their component parts – the amino acid building blocks – and then reassembled into new forms.
Your amino acids are recycled 3-4 times per day (so that chicken breast you ate for lunch may do a little time on your biceps, then get morphed into dopamine and serotonin, before being transformed into fuel by your liver.
Unlike fat and starch, the body does not store excess amino acids for later use (at least, not long term), so you must get them from foods everyday.
Not only do the aminos serve as building blocks for your muscles and vital organs, but they also compose as an assortment of other molecules, such as neurotransmitters and compounds that regulate your immune system.
* Amino acids enable vitamins and minerals to perform their functions, and form the base structures of DNA – the “back “ of your chromosomes.
Most diseases, if not all, involve a breakdown in cellular communication. Cell-to-cell communication relies upon these protein elements, and if the right amino acids are not available to make them, then signals get scrambled.
Foods that are complete proteins contain all ten essential amino acids. If you fail to get even one of the EAA’s in your diet, then your body will need to break down muscle tissue to liberate it – which makes complete proteins a highly valuable part of your diet.
Most complete proteins come from animal products.
Although many plant foods are rich in multiple amino acids, the only complete proteins from the plank kingdom are soybeans, quinoa, buckwheat, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and spirulina.
Lectins tell fat cells to store more fat
- Lectins are protein plants produce as a defense against predators (great book on this is Dr Gundry’s : The Plant Paradox)
- Lectins throw a spanner into your metabolic operations and stall your fat-busting efforts as they are metabolic saboteurs.
- Lectins also starve your muscle cells of energy, which result in loss of lean body mass.
- The more you consume, the more muscle wasting occurs.
They can also irritate your digestive tract, especially if it is already damaged. If you experience gas or bloating after eating beans, lectins are often to blame.
Lectins may also be problematic if you have an unhappy gallbladder. Legume (beans, peas, lentils) help lower cholesterol, because they send cholesterol into the bile, however if your bile is sluggish, add cholesterol will only make it thicker and increase your risk for gallstones.
- Fibre is the indigestible part of plant food. It increases satiety as well as offering tremendous benefits for your digestive tract and flora.
- Fibre increases bile flow and speeds up your gut transit time so that noxious wastes are eliminated quickly from your system.
- Fibre fuels metabolism by stabilizing blood sugar, improving insulin sensitivity, and promoting fat loss.
There’s soluble and insoluble fibre:
Soluble: fibre dissolves in water to form sticky ums or gels that absorb toxins, bile acids, cholesterol and other compounds.
It soles down carbohydrate absorption, stabilizes blood sugar and insulin, and improves fat digestion.
Insoluble fibre helps push matter through the digestive tract.
A specific type of soluble fibre feeds our gut bugs – this is called prebiotic.
Our but bacteria ferments these fibre, thereby creating fermentation byproducts.
This is an amino acid that, in addition to being a brain food, has healing gastrointestinal effects. It reduces inflammation, encourages the growth and repair of the intestinal wall, and helps your beneficial bacteria to flourish.
Bone broth is naturally rich in glutamine, as well as collagen, proline, glycine, and healthy fats, which can be very healing to the gastrointestinal tract.
Bile performs the following functions:
- Digesting and assimilating fats so that your body can use them, instead of packaging them up as body fat.
- Breaking down hormones and metabolic waste, the escorting them out of your body
- Helping absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E & K)
- Reducing inflammation
- Keeping cholesterol levels low
- Playing important roles in thyroid function (and therefore energy), preventing constipation, stabilizing moods – and many more.
This book was very informative about how to look after our gallbladders and to help understand how having sick bile can contribute to our weight gain, low moods and lack of energy.
I hope you enjoyed the review and if you are wanting to know more, please go out and buy the book!
If you’d like help with getting started on a healthy journey I have programs available for you : RESET or Healthy Hormone Program are great to kick start your health journey. Reach out if you’d like to know more