What Affects Our Metabolism: It’s Not Just Diet and Exercise

Dec 19, 2023
Indigestion and bloating can be caused by a slow metabolism.

Metabolism serves as the body’s engine, converting consumed food into energy vital for various functions—from basic breathing to physical movement.

We often hear about age-related slowdowns in metabolism or symptoms linked to a sluggish metabolism, and for women, this can often be suggested after childbirth. But what does this truly mean?! Science and research reveal a slowed metabolism appears in noticeable ways, like increased weight gain difficulties or challenges in shedding pounds, even with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Digestive issues, such as constipation or irregular bowel movements, may arise as metabolism is perceived to ‘slow down,’ affecting digestion’s efficiency. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), indicating the energy needed by the body at rest for essential functions, can correlate with signs of a slowed metabolism. Moreover, changes in hormone levels or disruptions in overall hormone balance are linked to a slower metabolism, impacting several bodily functions.

Metabolism Is a Complex Puzzle

Simply attributing everything to a slowed metabolism oversimplifies a complex puzzle. Let’s focus on weight challenges—a labyrinth concealed within this intricate metabolic system. Ever wondered why someone’s healthy efforts don’t match their desired weight while another seems unfazed by their eating habits? There’s more depth here than meets the eye. Now, let’s move past the textbook theories of metabolism to explore weight challenges. I’ll share my personal viewpoint, which I gained from working extensively with a high volume of clients over a decade. It’s a perspective concerning the complexity inherent in our individual weight journeys.

A young woman cooking a metabolism enhancing meal.

The Liver’s Role in Weight Gain and Metabolism

Weight gain is often linked to a sluggish metabolism, excessive eating, high carb intake, or insufficient exercise, but these discussions only scratch the surface. They fail to address the underlying cause behind the global mystery of unexpected weight gain. The liver emerges as a crucial ally in maintaining a healthy weight.

The thyroid and adrenal glands are often involved in weight gain, but the liver bears much of the challenge. When discussing a slowed metabolism, attention should also turn to hydrochloric acid, which is crucial for breaking down food, and bile reserves (gallbladder), which are necessary for digesting protein and fats.

Ideally, the liver effortlessly manages fats, toxins, and hormones, filtering out toxins while retaining beneficial fats and hormones. However, many struggle as their liver becomes overwhelmed, hindering efficient fat processing. This leads to rapid fat buildup inside and around the liver, causing pre-fatty and fatty liver conditions. Numerous factors contribute to a slowed or ‘sluggish’ liver function, such as high-fat diets, pollutants, stress, viruses, bacteria, and excess adrenaline.

Adrenaline, evident on our list of liver burdens, can escalate due to heightened stress, affecting both adults and younger individuals facing early burnout. Stress and adrenaline overload compound liver strain, exacerbated by prevalent high-protein, high-fat diets lacking fresh, living foods or essential herbs and spices. Excessive fat intake challenges the liver and kidneys, prompting doctors to advise patients with liver or kidney concerns to lower their fat intake. Diets like keto aggravate these issues for many, prompting adrenals to release adrenaline-aiding fat processing, especially when bile weakens under stress. This adrenaline surge is the body’s defence mechanism despite its damaging effects.

How Can We Enhance Liver Function, Metabolism, and Overall Wellness?

A starting point is supporting the liver through hydration, consuming living foods and fresh herbs, minimizing exposure to external liver threats, and ensuring sufficient calorie intake. Reducing high-fat intake from either plant or animal sources allows the liver to focus on vital functions beyond fat processing. Embracing essential carbohydrates like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes, fruits, and raw honey restores liver glycogen, fostering healing and preventing health issues.

As colder temperatures set in, people spend more time indoors, indulging in comfort foods and holiday celebrations, heightening pathogenic exposure—a liver burden. Winter weight gain and swelling often signify a stagnant, sluggish liver and lymphatic system.

Understanding Salt Cravings

During winter, reduced access to fresh produce, coupled with increased intake of salt, alcohol, and fats due to dehydration, alongside limited sun exposure and heightened holiday stress, can collectively suppress the immune system. It’s essential to stay mindful this season of salt cravings and consumption over the next month. While many might experience sugar cravings as the brain seeks glucose, craving salt can offer insights into the state of our adrenal glands and highlight potential deficiencies in mineral salts, electrolytes, and bioavailable iodine within our diets.

Salt cravings might be a sign of a shortage of important minerals in your body.

Understanding salt cravings reveals much about our body’s needs. If you frequently add salt to your meals, it might indicate a shortage of essential minerals. 

Incorporating an array of replenishing foods—such as leafy greens, rich in trace mineral salts and providing bioavailable forms of potassium, sodium, and chloride, along with green juices, celery, cucumber, sea vegetables, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, citrus, sprouts, microgreens, liver-rescue healing broth, and coconut water—can help restore the necessary ‘salts’ our body relies on. Over time, with consistent intake of these nourishing foods, the intensity of salt cravings often diminishes.

If you’re inclined towards salty foods during the holidays, remember to counteract potential dehydration by increasing your fluid intake. Opt for Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt as alternatives to table salt whenever possible. Additionally, supporting the lymphatic system throughout winter bolsters immunity and aids in weight management. Salt can often cause us to “swell” or retain extra water weight.

Supporting Your Liver’s Role in Metabolism

So, the liver takes the spotlight regarding our body’s metabolism. It filters for the body (among other organs), manages fat consumption, and keeps things in harmony. Our lifestyle choices are the real stars here—they’re like the dance moves in this routine, shaping how our metabolism swings. As winter arrives with its cozy vibes and festivities, it brings a new tempo, challenging our liver and immunity. To keep our body’s rhythm, giving our liver some love through hydration, nutrition therapy, reducing viral and heavy metal loads, and stress (or bringing in tools for adequate stress management) becomes the secret sauce.

As we waltz through this intricate metabolic dance, embracing a holistic approach—supporting our liver, nurturing our body, and being mindful of our choices—sets the stage for a vibrant and harmonious performance year-round.

About the Author: Dr. Kimberly Spair

Health coach Dr. Kimberly and her three children all wearing white.

Kimberly started her practice with a passion for recovery from illness fueled by her healing journey and the desire to share the light of natural wellness and healing with all who need it. As a board-certified Holistic Health Practitioner, she holds a PhD in Holistic Health and Nutrition, with an emphasis on the science of disease, toxicology and epigenetics. She has dedicated her career to supporting and empowering women, mothers and children as they reclaim their health and vitality using nutrition therapy in a world that does not always align with these intentions. As a wife and a mother to three littles, her passion and expertise center around women, children and families

“I am here to shout from the rooftops that your symptoms do not define you! I am ready to help you understand that you are NOT your diagnosis, and you have OPTIONS when it comes to your health and the health of you and your family.”

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