Understanding Metabolic Health Through Key Biomarkers
Metabolic health is all about having ideal levels of certain biomarkers, such as obesity, elevated triglycerides, HDL levels, insulin resistance, and blood pressure, among others. These markers are like checkpoints on the road to a healthy metabolism — here's what you need to know.
November 1, 2023 | Claire Petri, CPT
In the fast-paced world we live in, it's easy to overlook the intricate processes that keep our bodies running smoothly. One such vital process is metabolism, responsible for converting the food and beverages we consume into the energy we need to function. But how do you know if your metabolism is healthy and operating efficiently? In this article, we'll delve into the world of metabolic health and the essential biomarkers you should be keeping an eye on.
Metabolism at a glance
The metabolism is the engine that drives our bodies, determining how efficiently we burn and utilize calories. It's a complex network of chemical reactions that allows us to harness the energy we get from our diet. But just like any engine, it can experience hiccups. That's where metabolic health comes into play.
Metabolic health and biomarkers
Metabolic health is all about having ideal levels of certain biomarkers. These markers are like checkpoints on the road to a healthy metabolism. They include:
- Obesity: This can be measured using waist circumference or Body Mass Index (BMI), with waist circumference often being a more accurate reflection of your health. This is because abdominal fat is strongly associated with increased health risks, particularly metabolic and cardiovascular issues.
- Elevated triglycerides: Triglycerides are fats found in the blood and are a significant component of body fat. Elevated levels can be a sign of metabolic issues, as they are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and can indicate an imbalance in the body's energy storage and utilization.
- HDL Levels (cholesterol): High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is often referred to as "good" cholesterol. Maintaining healthy HDL levels is crucial for metabolic health because it helps remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream, reducing the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and promoting overall cardiovascular well-being.
- Insulin resistance: This condition can impede your body's ability to process and store sugar efficiently, potentially leading to various health problems, such as type II diabetes.
- Blood pressure: High blood pressure is another important indicator of metabolic health; it can reflect the body's ability to regulate blood flow and energy utilization, and it is often linked to metabolic syndrome and related conditions.
Assessing your metabolic health
You might be wondering how you can assess your metabolic health. The most comprehensive tests are typically done in a medical setting, where a Comprehensive Metabolic Blood Panel (CMP) can provide a detailed look at these biomarkers, as well as other critical information about your health, such as fluid balance, electrolyte levels, kidney function, and more.
But did you know that there are also at-home metabolism tests available? These can give you a basic idea of your metabolic health and are a convenient option if you'd like to monitor your progress regularly. These at-home metabolism tests include options like metabolic rate calculators, home blood sugar monitors, and wearable fitness trackers that provide insights into your daily activity and calorie expenditure.
Improving your metabolic health
Once you have the results of your metabolic tests, what can you do to enhance your metabolic health? Let's break it down by the key biomarkers:
- Obesity: Combat obesity by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Both proper nutrition and regular exercise and physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and boost the efficiency of your metabolism. In other words, your body will process and use calories more effectively.
- HDL & triglycerides: The power of exercise and nutrition shines here. Just 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, combined with a diet rich in healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, can increase your HDL levels while reducing triglycerides.
- Insulin resistance: Exercise, once again, is your best ally in the fight against insulin resistance. Regular physical activity helps your body process and store sugar correctly, with muscles playing a crucial role in this process. By ensuring your muscles are actively taking in glucose, you can prevent the accumulation of excess sugar in your body, which can lead to conditions like diabetes, PCOS, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and stroke.
- Blood pressure: Stress management is a key player in maintaining healthy blood pressure. By finding effective ways to manage and reduce stress, you can significantly lower your blood pressure. Techniques like good sleep hygiene, regular massages, and meditation can be invaluable in improving your metabolic health and overall well-being.
In conclusion, keeping an eye on your metabolic health is essential for maintaining a healthy and vibrant life. By monitoring key biomarkers and making positive lifestyle choices, you can ensure that your metabolism is working optimally, keeping you energized and ready to face life's challenges. So, remember, it's not just what you eat, but how your body metabolizes it that truly counts!
Claire Petri, CPT, is a personal trainer based in Greenwich and Darien who specializes in strength training and functional fitness. She enjoys working with both athletes and general population clients, and has experience with Pilates techniques, weight loss and pain management, helping clients overcome gym anxieties and learning proper movement patterns.