min read
June 20, 2024

Understanding Metabolic Health: Why It Matters and How to Support It Naturally

Discover the importance of metabolic health and learn natural ways to support it.

Lanby Team
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Metabolic health is a cornerstone of overall well-being, yet it remains an often misunderstood and underappreciated aspect of health. In the simplest terms, metabolism involves the chemical reactions in the body's cells that change food into energy. Proper metabolic function ensures that these processes are efficient, leading to stable energy levels, optimal weight management, and reduced risk of chronic diseases. Conversely, metabolic dysfunction is a common underlying theme in a wide array of conditions, including hypertension, liver disease, brain diseases, and cancers. Research in metabolic health is growing rapidly, highlighting its critical role in maintaining and enhancing our quality of life.

The Importance of Metabolic Health

1. Energy Regulation

At its core, metabolism involves the conversion of food into energy. Every cell in our body depends on this energy to function properly. When metabolic processes are efficient, we experience sustained energy levels, improved physical performance, and enhanced cognitive function. Conversely, poor metabolic health can lead to fatigue, brain fog, and decreased productivity.

2. Blood Sugar Control

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is vital for preventing conditions like type 2 diabetes. Good metabolic health ensures that insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood glucose, works effectively. Insulin resistance, a hallmark of metabolic dysfunction, can lead to chronically elevated blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of diabetes and its associated complications.

3. Weight Management

Metabolic health plays a significant role in weight management. Efficient metabolism means that the body is better at burning calories and storing energy properly. Poor metabolic health, on the other hand, can lead to weight gain and difficulty losing weight, as the body's ability to burn fat becomes impaired.

4. Cardiovascular Health

Metabolic health is closely linked to cardiovascular health. Poor metabolic health can lead to increased levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides, and blood pressure, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Conversely, good metabolic health helps maintain a healthy heart and vascular system.

5. Inflammation and Immune Function

Chronic inflammation is a common consequence of poor metabolic health and is linked to various diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune conditions. A healthy metabolism helps regulate the immune response, reducing unnecessary inflammation and supporting overall health.

Supporting Metabolic Health Naturally

1. Balanced Nutrition

A diet rich in whole foods is essential for metabolic health. Focus on consuming:

  • Healthy fats: Nuts and seeds, avocados, avocado oil, olive oil,coconut oil, ghee, wild caught cold water fish, olives support hormone production and cellular health.
  • Lean proteins: Lean meats, fish, dairy, legumes,eggs, seafood, and protein powders. aid in muscle maintenance and repair.
  • Complex carbohydrates: Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits provide sustained energy and fiber, aiding digestion and satiety.

Over 40 different factors influence glucose response, including macronutrient composition (carbs, protein, fat), timing and sequencing of meals, sleep quality, gut microbiome, stress levels, and nutrient deficiencies. These holistic factors collectively contribute to optimizing metabolic health.

2. Regular Physical Activity

Exercise is a powerful tool for enhancing metabolic health. Both aerobic exercises (like running, swimming, and cycling) and resistance training (such as weightlifting) improve insulin sensitivity, boost metabolism, and promote fat loss. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, supplemented by strength training sessions.

3. Adequate Sleep

Quality sleep is crucial for metabolic health. Poor sleep can disrupt hormone regulation, leading to increased appetite and weight gain. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to support metabolic processes and overall health. Notably, later bedtimes can result in higher glucose responses.

4. Stress Management

Chronic stress negatively impacts metabolic health by increasing cortisol levels, which can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain. Incorporate stress-reducing practices into your daily routine, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and spending time in nature.

5. Hydration

Staying adequately hydrated is essential for metabolic function. Water is involved in numerous metabolic processes, including digestion and nutrient absorption. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day.

6. Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained popularity for its potential benefits on metabolic health. By cycling between periods of eating and fasting, IF can improve insulin sensitivity, promote weight loss, and support cellular repair processes. Common methods include the 16/8 method (16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating) or the 5:2 method (eating normally for five days and restricting calories for two days).

7. Minimize Processed Foods and Sugars

Processed foods and added sugars can wreak havoc on metabolic health by causing blood sugar spikes and promoting fat storage. Reduce intake of sugary beverages, snacks, and refined grains, opting instead for whole, unprocessed foods that provide sustained energy and nutrients.

Understanding Insulin Resistance and Its Implications

Insulin resistance is a condition where the body's cells become desensitized to insulin, resulting in higher blood sugar levels and increased insulin production. This chronic state leads to inflammation and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Insulin, a hormone that signals cells to absorb glucose from the blood, is continuously secreted in response to high glycemic foods common in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Over time, this can cause the cells to become resistant to insulin's effects, leading to persistent high blood sugar and insulin levels.

Impact on Cardiovascular Health

High levels of LDL cholesterol can accumulate on the walls of arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. Elevated triglycerides (TG) are even more indicative of heart disease risk. Optimal metabolic health targets include:

  • LDL: Conventional benchmark is less than 100 mg/dL, but optimal levels are below 70 mg/dL.
  • TG: Conventional level is less than 150 mg/dL, with optimal levels below 100 mg/dL.
  • HDL: Higher levels are better, with conventional benchmarks above 45 mg/dL and optimal levels above 60 mg/dL.

Fasting Glucose and Insulin Levels

Fasting glucose levels provide a snapshot of blood sugar control, but fasting insulin levels offer insight into how much insulin is needed to maintain those glucose levels. Conventional benchmarks for fasting insulin are less than 25 μU/mL, but optimal levels are much lower, between 2-6 μU/mL.

The Role of Hormones and Fertility

Hormonal balance is intricately linked to metabolic health. For instance, insulin resistance can exacerbate conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), affecting sex hormone levels and increasing appetite for carbohydrate-dense foods. This leads to a vicious cycle of cravings, increased adipose tissue, and hormonal dysregulation, contributing to infertility and menstrual irregularity.

Men's fertility is also affected by insulin resistance, which can compromise vascular health and lead to erectile dysfunction (ED).

The Dawn Phenomenon

The dawn phenomenon refers to a rise in blood glucose levels in the morning, even in a fasted state. This is due to the release of cortisol and other hormones that mobilize glucose from the liver to prepare the body for the day. Understanding and managing this phenomenon can help improve fasting glucose levels over time.

Optimizing Health Holistically

Improving and optimizing metabolic health involves more than just focusing on macronutrients. Micronutrient deficiencies play a significant role in chronic illness and poor metabolic health. Key nutrients that influence insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control include Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, Zinc, Magnesium, and Alpha Lipoic Acid. Balancing your focus on both macro and micronutrients is essential for comprehensive health improvement.


Metabolic health is a pivotal aspect of overall well-being, influencing everything from energy levels and weight management to cardiovascular and immune health. By adopting natural, sustainable lifestyle practices such as balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, proper hydration, intermittent fasting, and minimizing processed foods, you can support and enhance your metabolic health. Prioritizing these habits will not only improve your metabolic function but also contribute to a longer, healthier, and more vibrant life.

Metabolic health research is rapidly advancing, and understanding the holistic picture of how various factors contribute to glucose response and overall health is crucial. Aim to create a liberated mindset around food and health, focusing on improving both your metabolic health and your relationship with food and lifestyle choices.

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The Lanby Editorial Team