As Americans become more engaged in taking control of their health, we see more awareness around subjects such as metabolic health. New research has recently been published showing that an “alarmingly low” number of American adults have optimal metabolic health, leaving the majority of Americans at a higher risk of many harmful diseases.
What is Metabolic Health?
Metabolic health is sometimes misunderstood to mean the rate and process of burning calories from food and transforming it into energy. In actuality, metabolism and metabolic health are so much more than that. Metabolism refers to the full range of biochemical processes in the body, including anabolism, the buildup of substances in the body, and catabolism, the breakdown of substances. Metabolic health, then, is the health of cellular function.
Since metabolic health includes such a wide range of functions, there are five main indicators of metabolic health:
- Blood glucose levels
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
- Blood pressure
- Waist circumference
When each of these indicators is in a healthy range in a person, that person is said to have optimal metabolic health.
6 Ways to Improve Metabolic Health
The best way to improve your metabolic health is a combination of exercise and eating a well-balanced diet.
1 – Exercise – Cardio and Strength Training
One of the best ways to increase your metabolic health is to increase your exercise levels. This includes cardio exercises such as circuit training, biking, or running at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week, and strength training. While cardio training typically burns fat faster, strength training slowly burns more calories over time as your muscles get stronger and begin consuming more energy.
2 – Quit Smoking
We know that smoking is considered one of the most negative health behaviors and is among the most common risk factors for several diseases. In addition to many well-known health issues such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, smoking also has a detrimental impact on metabolic health. Smoking increases insulin resistance and is associated with central fat accumulation, both of which have negative impacts on metabolic health. Smoking also impairs lipid metabolism, increases blood pressure, and increases oxidative stress.(1)
3 – Eat a Healthy, Well-Balanced Diet
Avoid processed foods as well as foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates. Increase your intake of lean proteins, vegetables, and complex carbs such as beans and lentils.
4 – Drink Green Tea
Drinking green tea may help to increase your metabolic health by increasing catechins in your body. An increase in tea rich in catechins has been shown in some studies to reduce waist circumference and subcutaneous fat, which are contributing factors to metabolic health.(2)
5 – Reduce Stress
Chronic stress is linked to obesity and is thought to be an important risk factor for a number of metabolic diseases. To reduce stress, take up yoga, tai chi, or meditation. Regular exercise, getting outside, and taking a walk can also help to decrease stress.
6 – Consider Metabolic Health-Supporting Supplements
While no amount of supplements can outweigh a poor diet, supplements can help increase the delivery of beneficial nutrients to many of your body’s key systems. For instance:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are touted for their benefits in cardiovascular health. However, these essential nutrients are also helpful for overall metabolic health. Omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce triglycerides(3) and reduce blood pressure(4), both of which are key indicators in metabolic health.
- L-Arginine: L-Arginine is an amino acid that performs several vital functions, including helping to support the secretion of key hormones such as insulin and glucagon. It can also help to maintain normal systolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. *
- Taurine: Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that may have benefits in promoting insulin sensitivity, and may have lipid-lowering capabilities.(5)
- CoQ10: CoQ10 helps to promote cellular energy production, and may also have a beneficial impact on insulin levels and sensitivity.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a fat- and water-soluble antioxidant that is involved in insulin-mediated glucose utilization, which may help aid in healthy glucose metabolism.*
[View Full List of Metabolically-Healthy Supplements] *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.