Metabolism has been shown to affect aging, longevity and mortality. New research from the American Chemical Society can better help us understand longevity. Their study was conducted on worms, and researchers believe they can accurately predict longevity at middle-age.
Being able to predict longevity is useful for insurance companies, retirement investing and health care planning. Current techniques that estimate longevity base results on geographical location, family history and lifestyle choices. To make predication more reliable researchers began looking at genes – but even DNA only tells one part of the story. Researchers then turned to the metabolism of worms for further insight.
Researchers compared metabolic changes in normal worms and long-living worms with a genetic mutation. They profiled 26 metabolites, which allowed them to predict the worm’s lifespan. Researchers also found that when normal worms were middle-aged they began aging 40 percent faster. This was confirmed by their metabolic profiles.
The researchers feel further study needs to be conducted to properly understand how the metabolism can reveal aging and longevity. The findings were published in the Journal of Proteome Research.
Overview of metabolic rate
Metabolism is a chemical process that allows life and proper functioning. Some aspects of the metabolic process include the breaking down of food and nutrients as well as building and repairing the body. Many metabolic processes require energy, which comes from our food; it’s important to eat healthy so our metabolic processes can function correctly.
There are two different kinds of processes of the metabolism: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is when food is broken down into simple forms, which can become energy and be used for building and repairing. Anabolism is when the body needs to be built or repaired. Once again energy is required, which comes from the food we eat.
Additional to our metabolism processes is our metabolic rate. Metabolic rate refers to the amount of energy expelled during the metabolic process. There are three components to the metabolic rate: basal metabolic rate (BMR), energy used during physical activity and thermic effect on food.
Basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy that is burned at rest – this is measured in kilojoules. BMR accounts for 50 to 80 percent of energy used throughout your day, making it the largest amount of energy expended. Energy used during physical activity for a person who is moderately active will account for 20 percent of energy used in a day. Thermic effect on food is the energy used to break down food. This accounts for five to 10 percent of your daily energy.
Increased metabolic rate and accelerated aging
Previous research from the Endocrine Society found that an accelerated metabolism could predict early natural mortality. Lead author of the study, Reiner Jumpertz, M.D., said, “We found that higher endogenous metabolic rate, that is how much energy the body uses for normal body functions, is a risk factor for earlier mortality. This increased metabolic rate may lead to earlier organ damage (in effect accelerated aging) possibly by accumulation of toxic
substances produced with the increase in energy turnover.”
“It is important to note that these data do not apply to exercise-related energy expenditure. This activity clearly has beneficial effects on human health,” Jumpertz added.
Researchers looked at 652 non-diabetic healthy Pima Indians. 24-hour energy expenditure was measured along with resting metabolic rate. There was a follow-up period of 11.1 years and data for energy expenditure was taken in a respiratory chamber.
After the study 27 participants died of natural causes. The researchers found that while energy expenditure rose, so did the risk of natural mortality. Jumpertz concluded, “The results of this study may help us understand some of the underlying mechanisms of human aging and indicate why reductions in metabolic rate, for instance via low calorie diets, appear to be beneficial for human health.”
Signs of slowing metabolism
You may have noticed that when some people eat large meals and remain skinny the normal comment is, “Oh they must have a fast metabolism.” But eating a meal alone is not an indication of metabolism speed. Here are seven ways you can judge if your metabolism is slowing.
- 1. It’s harder to lose weight than gain weight
- 2. No amount of exercise seems to take off those extra pounds
- 3. You put on weight even if you’re not eating as much
- 4. Fat is accumulating in areas it wasn’t before
- 5. You’re noticing cellulite in new places
- 6. Your heels are cracked and dry and your hair is thinning
- 7. You crave sugar by the afternoon
Improving metabolism as we age
Even though is may seem harder to boost metabolism as the years pass, it’s still possible. Here are some easy tips to boost your metabolism and feel better overall.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet – no processed food.
- Eat regularly, but pay attention to your hunger – never skip a meal.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Increase your protein and fiber intake – eat protein from fish and poultry sources and minimize red meat.
- Exercise but switch it up – if you stick with the same routine you’ll hit a plateau.
- Take care of your thyroid – a plant-based diet can help nourish your thyroid. Your metabolism relies on your thyroid to become regulated.
- Balance activity and rest.
Adjusting diet and exercise to slowing metabolism, aging
Based on the suggestions above, which indicate a slower metabolism, you might be able to guess if yours is starting to slack. But you don’t need to allow this to happen or become frustrated that all you seem to do is put on weight. There are adjustments you can make to your diet and exercise routine to combat a slower metabolism. The following suggestions come from recommendations provided by Johns Hopkins University.
- Follow a healthy diet and always start with breakfast. Skipping breakfast puts your body in starvation mode, which makes your metabolism work slower.
- Eat frequently – enjoy smaller meals instead of three large ones.
- Eat lean protein.
- Do aerobic exercises and strength training.
- Get proper and adequate sleep.
- Avoid metabolism-boosting supplements – these supplements increase heart rate, which can have negative side effects.
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