Let’s start with the most simplistic answer, to be metabolically healthy means to be absent of metabolic disease. So, naturally, this leads us to the next question, what is metabolic disease? This answer is slightly more complex. Until recently, the medical community has hyper-focused on defining metabolic disease as a constellation of pre-diabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure, abdominal adiposity (weight along our abdomen), and dyslipidemia (abnormal cholesterol levels). However, metabolic disease is far more reaching than just this. Our body’s metabolism is essentially responsible for every cellular pathway within the human body to maintain its function. This is way more than burning calories. Our metabolism is responsible for the energy intake and output within our mitochondria to create Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is required to move, talk, breathe, digest, and every other dynamic process of the human body. Stay with me. The work of our metabolism digs much deeper. It effects tissue production and repair, cellular reproduction, hormonal synthesis, waste metabolism, growth, disease prevention, and immune support- to name just a few.
How our metabolism works is dependent largely on the fuel which drives it. The theory “calories in versus calories out” is far too rudimentary to fully appreciate how our metabolism supports the phenomenal machinery of our human body. When we feed our mitochondria ketones in place of glucose, we see 30-40% less oxidative injury and inflammation. We now know the root of most disease begins within our mitochondria. Chronic glucose elevation and insulin resistance contribute to the development of many forms of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disease development, cardiovascular disease, infertility, and even mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. The impact of our food choices extends far beyond our waistline.
Our primary goal is disease prevention. Our secondary goal is disease mitigation. We can absolutely take charge through dietary changes. Fat is not the enemy, sugar is. Let’s not forget that even complex carbohydrates in the form of bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes break right down to glucose. A beautiful way for you to better learn how different foods effects your glucose levels is to monitor your glucose response with either a fingerstick blood glucose meter, like the Keto-Mojo or by using a continuous glucose monitoring device such as the FreeStyle Libre or Dexcom. When we can immediately see how different foods, stress, exercise, and sleep (or lack of) effect our glucose, we can better take charge of our metabolic health. This is about creating strategy through understanding and appreciating the science of what truly makes our human body work optimally. I encourage you to learn more. Take charge. You are in the driver’s seat to optimize your metabolic health!
-Allison Hull, DO