What do you think of when you hear the word “metabolism”? Weight loss, energy, getting older? The term is used in many contexts…but what does it really mean? One authoritative definition of metabolism is the following:
“The whole range of biochemical processes that occur within a living organism. Metabolism consists of anabolism (the build-up of substances) and catabolism (the break-down of substances). The term metabolism is commonly used to refer specifically to the break-down of food and its transformation into energy.”
So what does that mean? It means metabolism is the body’s process of changing food into energy and how the body then uses that energy for various functions. Some of those functions we have to think about and some we don’t…like choosing to walk to the gym to work out versus the detoxification process that occurs 24/7 in the liver and kidneys.
Key Metabolism Facts
As we age our muscle mass decreases and our fat level begins to increase. In fact, one of the greatest predictors of advanced aging decline is the increasing loss of muscle mass over time. As we age our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR = the amount of calories we burn at rest) decreases, which means that as we age our metabolism is actually slowing down.
Take-away: As we get older, we need to stay physically active (especially with resistance training-based activities) in order to help maintain muscle mass and help keep our fat level low, which will support our metabolism by helping to raise our BMR.
Mitochondria are the “battery packs” in our cells that produces the energy our cells and organ systems need to function.
Recent studies indicate that many chronic disease states begin to happen when the mitochondria don’t function properly. Hence, keeping our mitochondria healthy is vital to maintaining our overall optimal health as we age. Key take-away: As we get older, our mitochondria become more susceptible to poor diet and oxidative damage that sets the stage for unhealthy aging and chronic disease states. To avoid this situation makes it even more important to feed and protect our mitochondria.
We are made up of – by some estimates – as many as 37.2 trillion cells. The majority of these cells contain mitochondria that are subject to the various exposures, good and bad, from our daily lifestyle choices – exercise (or lack thereof), exposure to pollution, consumption of vegetables, consumption of fast food. All of these choices, along with our genetics, determine how fast we will age and how well our metabolism and mitochondria will function. Consider how metal rusts and food goes rancid unless cared for appropriately – that’s a simplified visual version of what we deal with in our cells over time.
How do we slow this rusting and aging? From the inside out. We know exercise does many things to support our mitochondria and hence our metabolism. We detailed that support in our previous blog. Research also suggests that key phytonutrients and the amount and type of food we eat each day also support how well both function. But how do they do that? Below are a few additional facts that describe how.
Other Key Facts
Sirtuins are a group of regulatory enzymes believed to play a key role in aging and longevity. One particular sirtuin – SIRT1 – increases the number and vitality of mitochondria, thereby enhancing energy efficiency, improving muscular performance, and slowing the aging process. Key Take-Away: Sirtuins slightly alter the structure of other proteins in the body. In doing so, sirtuins modulate a wide array of cellular activities, including gene expression, energy production and consumption, stress responses, inflammation, and aging.
2. Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+)
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a coenzyme found in our cells that helps our mitochondria function more effectively and efficiently. Mitochondria cannot perform their crucial cellular functions without a sufficient supply of NAD+. The more NAD+ we have the better our mitochondria work. NAD+ serves as a signaling molecule and a cofactor for sirtuins. Without adequate NAD+ sirtuins won’t work. Animal studies suggest NAD+ levels decrease significantly by middle age, which is associated with increased oxidative stress and decreased SIRT1 levels.
Take-away: Aging, along with physical inactivity and poor diet, can lead to decreased levels of NAD+, which then results in decreased mitochondria production and function. This can then lead to a seemingly sluggish metabolism and the potential for negative health consequences, or early onset of aging.
3. Nicotinamide Riboside (NR)
Nicotinamde riboside (NR) is a non-flushing form of vitamin B3.* Because sirtuins are induced by increased NAD+ levels and NR raises NAD+, NR might be helpful in delaying many of the degenerative changes associated with aging.*
Take-away: Nicotinamide riboside supplementation provides fundamental support for mitochondrial production and other mitochondrial activities – from energy production to the regulation of cellular aging.*
ResveraCel is a nutritional supplement formula from Thorne that combines nicotinamide riboside – the most efficient direct precursor to NAD+ – with sirtuin activators like resveratrol and quercetin, and betaine (trimethylglycine). ResveraCel supports healthy aging and helps regulate metabolism for improved metabolic syndrome parameters.*