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Metabolism (Human Anatomy): Image, Functions, Diseases and Treatments

Last Updated: Nov 23, 2022

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Your metabolism constantly delivers energy to your body for important tasks such as breathing and digestion. The quantity of calories your body needs on a daily basis (the BMR, or basal metabolic rate) to keep these functions operating normally is determined by your individual biology.). Metabolism, also known as BMR, varies depending on factors including age, gender, muscle mass, and level of physical activity.

Metabolism refers to the chemical (metabolic) processes that occur in your body as food and drink are converted into energy. To make and release energy, a complicated mechanism combines calories and oxygen. This energy powers the body's processes.

What is the basal metabolic rate (BMR)?

When at rest, your body uses calories at a rate known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This amount varies depending on the individual.

Your BMR accounts for 60% to 70% of the energy your body consumes. Rapid weight reduction and aggressive calorie restriction lower your BMR, which is why weight loss is rarely linear and may plateau at some point.

How does the body use the rest of its energy?

Your body converts food into fuel with about one-tenth of its energy. Your physical movement is powered by the remaining energy.

How does metabolism affect weight?

Metabolic disorders are often cited as the cause of obesity. However, your metabolism naturally regulates itself to fulfil the needs of your body. It nearly never leads to weight gain or loss. In order to lose weight, one must expend more energy than they take in.


What distinguishes a fast metabolism from a sluggish metabolism?

Even when at rest, someone with a rapid metabolism or BMR burns a lot of calories. If you have a slow metabolism or BMR, your body requires less calories to function properly.

A fast metabolism does not always imply thinness. Studies have shown that rapid metabolisms are common in those who are overweight or obese. Their bodies require more energy to maintain basic body functions.

Metabolism Functions

What we consume is turned into energy by a process called metabolism. It is always operational, even when we are not. Our metabolism is at work every time we breathe, circulate blood, or digest food, providing energy for these basic body functions.

While our metabolism is always active, the rate at which it works varies depending on a variety of factors such as our age, weight, and activity level. Someone who is younger and more active, for example, will have a higher metabolic rate than someone who is older and less active.We can increase our metabolism by eating smaller, more frequent meals and exercising on a regular basis. We can help keep our bodies healthy and fit by keeping our metabolism running smoothly.

Metabolism Conditions and Disorders

  • Metabolic Syndrome: When metabolic syndrome is present, the likelihood of having cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes is drastically enhanced. Diseases that fall into this category include hypertension, diabetes, abdominal fat, and abnormal lipid profiles (cholesterol and triglycerides).
  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction: the tiny structures within cells responsible for creating energy, are responsible for mitochondrial malfunction. The efficiency with which mitochondria work and generate energy can be altered by mutations in mitochondrial DNA or cellular DNA, as well as by environmental factors.
  • Organ Dysfunction: Failure of metabolic organs is a real medical possibility. Diabetes may occur, for example, if the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes is characterised by an inability of the body to generate enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal. In 2018, over 11% of Americans, or roughly 34 million people, were diabetes, as reported by the American Diabetes Association.
  • Gaucher’s Disease: Only about 6,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with Gaucher's disease, a rare genetic condition. That's because a mutation in the gene responsible for making glucocerebrosidase has caused this condition. Lipid, or fat, buildup occurs when there is not enough of this enzyme.
  • Hemochromatosis: Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder that disrupts the body's normal iron absorption process. Extreme iron intake from food or transfusions, or a mutation in the HFE gene, can also cause this condition.
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU): Those affected by PKU either lack the ability to manufacture phenylalanine hydroxylase at birth or have a severely diminished capacity to do so. To put it simply, this enzyme is crucial for breaking down amino acids. Amino acids are used in metabolic processes to construct proteins, which are fundamental to human health and development.
  • Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD): MSUD causes fast neuronal degeneration by interfering with the metabolism of certain amino acids. It kills newborns if not treated within the first few months of life.
  • Hurler syndrome: Deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme IUDA, which aids in the breakdown of dermatan sulphate and heparin sulphate, is the underlying cause of Hurler syndrome (GAG). In the end, this leads to a buildup of GAG in the body, which triggers severe cell malfunction and ultimately death. delay)
  • Niemann-Pick disease: Niemann-Pick disease is an extremely rare hereditary disorder that disrupts cellular lipid (fat) metabolism. When these cells fail to operate properly, they eventually perish. The lungs, brain, spinal cord, liver, spleen, bone marrow, and spleen can all be affected by Niemann-Pick disease.
  • Tay-Sachs disease: Diseases like Tay-Sachs are extremely rare, and they are genetic disorders that cause the death of brain and spinal cord nerve cells.
  • Fabry disease: Lipids, such as oils, waxes, and fatty acids, are metabolised inefficiently in Fabry disease (also known as alpha-galactosidase-A deficiency) due to a lack of or a defective enzyme.
  • Krabbe disease: Brain cells are destroyed by the accumulation of toxic levels of lipids (fatty materials such as oils and waxes) in different cells and tissues of the body, a condition known as Krabbe disease.
  • Galactosemia: Babies who have trouble digesting galactose from breast milk or infant formula are at risk for developing jaundice, vomiting, and liver enlargement.
  • Glycogen storage diseases: Low blood sugar, muscle discomfort, and weakness are the symptoms of glycogen storage diseases.
  • Friedreich ataxia: Nerve damage and even cardiac difficulties are the results of Friedreich ataxia, which is caused by frataxin protein dysfunction. Most people are unable to walk by the time they are young adults.
  • Zellweger syndrome: Genetic disorders such as Zellweger syndrome are inherited. It creates severe issues shortly after birth by interfering with cellular activity.
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy: Adrenoleukodystrophy is a genetic disorder that attacks the protective covering of your brain's nerve cells, known as the myelin sheath.
  • Wilson disease: In patients with Wilson's illness, copper isn't excreted normally and builds up, which can be fatal. Between the ages of 12 and 23, most people experience the onset of symptoms.
  • Hemochromatosis: Typically, haemochromatosis, a hereditary disorder, is to blame for iron overload. Toxic levels of iron are linked to an increased risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and liver cirrhosis.
  • Obesity: Overweight people are at increased risk for serious conditions such type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
  • Hypothyroidism: A lack of thyroid hormones, which causes hypothyroidism, can affect the rate at which your heart beats, your body temperature, and your metabolism overall. For some reason, hypothyroidism strikes more mature women.

Metabolism Tests

  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP): A blood test that examines 14 different metabolic markers. It tells you a lot about your metabolism and the chemical equilibrium of your body.
  • Analyzing Lactic Acid: The lactate (or lactic acid) blood test determines the concentration of lactic acid in the blood. Lactic acidosis can occur when levels of lactic acid exceed normal levels. If severe enough, it can disrupt your blood's acid-base balance, or pH.
  • Newborn Screening: As part of a public health initiative known as 'newborn screening,' infants are screened for treatable disorders that may not be clinically apparent at birth.

Metabolism Treatments

  • Injections of insulin: The solution for diabetics is an insulin injection, either long-acting or rapid-acting. Human-made insulin is used to lower blood sugar levels.
  • Get some exercise: If you are not seeing results from your exercise routine, do not give up. Getting regular exercise is good for your health even if it doesn't help you slim down. It can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and even strengthen bones.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Even if you maintain your current weight, eating healthily can improve your cholesterol, insulin resistance, and blood pressure.
  • Lose some weight: You must make an effort to lose weight. Losing weight is an unavoidable side effect of living a healthy lifestyle. If you are overweight or obese, this is an important goal in and of itself. Losing weight benefits all aspects of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolism Medicines

  • Steroids for reducing inflammation of Metabolism: Anti-inflammatory medications diminish inflammation by preventing polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) from migrating to areas of cellular and tissue damage. They are effective in enhancing metabolic activity for a short period of time but are also responsible for reducing immunity.
  • Analgesics for pain in Metabolic disorders: Analgesics are pain relievers that also reduce the quantity of prostaglandins produced by the body. Aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac sodium, and acetaminophen are medications that can help with acute or chronic pain symptoms.
  • Muscle relaxants for stiffness in Metabolism: Professionals treating patients with stiffness and discomfort in the muscles and catilages may prescribe muscle relaxants such as metaxalone, methocarbamol, orphenadrine, or carisoprodol.
  • Antibiotics for infection in Metabolism: Antibiotics are a type of medication used to treat bacterial disorders that affect metabolism and aid in the progression of myositis and other infections. Vancomycin and Cephalosporin (or Cefepime if Pseudomonas is a concern), as well as azithromycin or doxycycline, are important for this purpose.
  • Nutritional supplements for improvemnt in Metabolism: To increase metabolism, a variety of nutritional supplements can be taken. Cyanocobalamine, also known as vitamin B12, is required for fat and protein metabolism. Retinol, also known as vitamin A, aids in the breakdown of carbohydrates and the increase of energy levels. Lycopene, a potent antioxidant, protects cells from damage and strengthens the immune system. Vitamin D's role in calcium and phosphorus absorption is crucial to metabolism.
  • Antivirals for treating infection of Metabolism: Antiviral drugs used to treat viral infections include seltamivir, zanamivir, acyclovir, and gancyclovir. These medications are typically prescribed for five days to treat metabolic infection disorders.

To what extent do other variables influence metabolic rate or metabolism?

  • Many factors influence metabolic rate, another name for metabolism. To begin, let's talk about muscle size. Muscle mass is directly correlated to increased metabolic rate. It's true that keeping up muscle mass takes more calories than keeping up fat, but that's not all.
  • Furthermore, chronological age. The rate at which our bodies process nutrients and energy slows down as we age. This is because we have lost muscle mass and have slowed down our level of physical activity.
  • Lastly, sexuality. Because of their greater muscle mass and higher testosterone levels, men typically have a faster metabolic rate than women.
  • Finally, genetics. An increased metabolic rate may be inherited or run in a family, making some people more predisposed to being overweight than others.
  • Exercise is the last part. Because your body needs to use more calories to fuel your activities, your metabolic rate will increase as your level of physical activity does.

How can I have a healthy metabolism?

  • Having a healthy metabolism requires that you give it food, and breakfast is the best time to do that.Skipping meals is detrimental since it slows down your metabolism.
  • Obtaining optimal metabolic performance is dependent on supplying your body with the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it need to produce the energy you need.

When should I talk to a doctor?

It's critical to see a doctor if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:

Extreme fatigue, unexplained weight loss or gain, breathing problems, ongoing pain, or changes in appetite. These conditions might be indications of a more severe medical issue that needs attention.

Depression and anxiety are serious medical conditions that need medical attention. If you are contemplating harming yourself or another else, you need to get help right now.

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Written ByDrx Hina FirdousPhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child CarePharmacology
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician

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