What is Metabolic Health?
Written by: The Veri Team
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Learn what your metabolism actually means, how metabolic health is measured, and how it affects your entire wellbeing.
You’ve probably heard someone credit their “fast metabolism” for their body composition before. And while metabolism may be a factor in weight management, that doesn’t paint a full picture of what metabolism actually is.
Metabolism is about much more than weight control or how much food you can eat. It’s a vital process that helps power all of our bodily functions. Learn more about this process and the importance of supporting your metabolic health, below.
To put it simply, human metabolism equals all the chemical reactions that take part in transforming food into energy and building blocks for our bodies. The energy and building blocks are then used for three important actions:
In a healthy state, the human body is a very smart machine that has a lot of flexibility when it comes to metabolism. A healthy metabolism is very much about efficient fuel utilization (aka how we process food).
Metabolic health is measured by checking levels of:
When everything is working optimally, the body is adaptable and capable of:
This is also referred to as metabolic flexibility. Unfortunately, only an estimated 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy and flexible. This means a majority of the population is living with metabolic dysfunction.
Metabolic inflexibility or metabolic dysfunction means that our bodies have trouble handling, circulating, and storing the fuel that we feed to it.
It’s linked to an increased risk of various chronic diseases, including:
The earlier you catch the signs of metabolic problems the better as these diseases take years, even decades, to develop.
Signs of metabolic dysfunction include:
And taking care of your metabolic health is not only about preventing disease. Your current state of metabolic flexibility can have a huge impact on your everyday life. Losing your metabolic flexibility has been associated with depressive symptoms, skin problems like psoriasis and acne, and hair loss.[3,4]
So, where do we start? One of the best ways to measure your metabolic health doesn’t require a doctor’s visit—it’s something you can do at home, every day: monitoring your blood sugar.
Monitoring blood sugar levels more closely, especially after a meal, can give some very early warning signs that there is something going on with your metabolism.
It is normal for your blood sugar to rise after a meal, but if it stays elevated for an extended period of time, it’s often an indicator that the body has trouble regulating its sugar metabolism.
Big fluctuations of blood sugar increase the risk of developing further metabolic problems. High, post-meal blood sugar spikes have been associated with higher risk for heart disease and cancer, especially if they happen repeatedly.[5,6] The metabolic stress caused by large swings in blood sugar can also have a long term effect on your cognition, the capacity to remember and learn new things.
In a healthy state, even very high blood sugar spikes are brought down rapidly thanks to a well-running metabolism. But having constant spikes might not be so good for your long-term health. These swings between low and high can also affect your day-to-day life, even when you would be considered metabolically healthy. Monitoring your lifestyle and reducing blood sugar spikes can therefore improve your day-to-day experience.
Here are some scientifically backed benefits of stable blood sugar:
That said, stable blood sugar within a metabolically healthy range is something we should all strive for. But how do we know if we’re actually there—especially when we’re probably only used to having our blood sugar tested at our annual physical?
This is where the Veri continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system steps in. Our wearable device checks your blood sugar throughout the day and connects to an app, which empowers you to take your wellbeing into your own hands. You’ll get real-time data on how your food and lifestyle habits affect your metabolic health, and with those insights, you can make changes to feel your very best.
1. J Araujo et al., Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2016, 2019. Published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders. URL: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/met.2018.0105
2. R Smith et al., Metabolic Flexibility as an Adaptation to Energy Resources and Requirements in Health and Disease, 2018. Published in Endocrine Reviews. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6093334/
3. S Pearson et al., Depression and Insulin Resistance, 2010. Published in Diabetes Care. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2858189/
4. M Napolitano et al., Insulin Resistance and Skin Diseases, 2015. Published in Scientific World Journal. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4419263/
5. P Stattin et al., Prospective Study of Hyperglycemia and Cancer Risk, 2007. Published in Diabetes Journals. URL: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/7/e78.full.pdf
6. F Sasso et al., Glucose Metabolism and Coronary Heart Disease in Patients With Normal Glucose Tolerance, 2004. Published in JAMA. URL: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/198573
7. K Node and T Inoue, Postprandial hyperglycemia as an etiological factor in vascular failure, 2009. Published in Cardiovascular Diabetology. URL: https://cardiab.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2840-8-23
8. H Nguyen and R Katta, Sugar Sag: Glycation and the Role of Diet in Aging Skin, 2015. Published in Skin Theraphy Letter. URL: https://www.skintherapyletter.com/aging-skin/glycation/
9. R Smith et al., A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial, 2007. Published in American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition. URL: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17616769/
10. C Fritsch and L Quinn, Fatigue in patients with diabetes: A review, 2010. Published in Journal of Psychosomatic Research. URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399910000620?via%3Dihub
11. O Roladsson et al., Increased Glucose Levels Are Associated With Episodic Memory in Nondiabetic Women, 2008. Published in Diabetes. URL: https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/57/2/440
12. A Sommerfiel et al., Acute Hyperglycemia Alters Mood State and Impairs Cognitive Performance in People With Type 2 Diabetes, 2004. Published in Diabetes Care. URL: https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/10/2335
13. K Stuart et al., Postprandial Reactive Hypoglycaemia: Varying Presentation Patterns on Extended Glucose Tolerance Tests and Possible Therapeutic Approaches, 2012. Published in Case Reports in Medicine. URL: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/crim/2013/273957/
14. D Zeevi et al., Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses, 2015. Published in Cell. URL: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26590418/