Metabolic Health: What It Is & How To Improve It
If you’ve ever eaten chocolate or cake and felt tired afterward - what you experienced was a blood glucose crash.
We don’t tend to think about glucose levels outside of diabetes, but it’s an important marker for everyone’s metabolic health.
Blood glucose control is a keystone to metabolic health. Insulin is the hormone that moves glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream to convert it to energy. This is disrupted in metabolic dysfunction and has a profound impact on energy, mood, weight, mental performance, and longevity.
Our metabolism is one of the foundations of health. We often associate it with excess weight or belly fat - but it’s much more than that.
It’s the sum of all the biochemical processes happening in the body including the metabolism of hormones. It affects how we feel and how we age. It affects our mental health - how we think and feel.
The opposite of metabolic health is known as metabolic syndrome which clinically looks like elevated fasting glucose, expanding waistline, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Part of my work with high-performing women is optimising metabolic health to improve their energy, performance, weight and confidence, mental wellbeing, and reduce the risk of chronic illness.
It’s a game changer to achieve our vision and purpose. Without a healthy functioning metabolism, we won’t have the energy or get-up and go to do everything we want to do.
How to improve metabolic health
1. Get off the blood glucose rollercoaster
The first thing is nutrition! Clean up the diet and remove inflammatory foods which disrupt glucose levels. If we can keep our glucose levels relatively stable, we’ll feel good throughout the day and our metabolism will be humming along.
To start, remove obvious sugars such as chocolate, soft drinks, biscuits, dessert, ice-cream, cake, or sugar in coffee or tea. These foods will often cause blood glucose highs and lows, causing high amounts of insulin, fat storage and energy disruption.
The more sugar we eat, the more we crave it and feel powerless around it due to the effect on blood glucose levels.
If you’re getting to bed late or having 6 hours or less of sleep regularly, this has been shown to impact metabolic health.
Sleep deprivation causes glucose levels to rise.
Having 8 hours of proper restorative sleep increases insulin sensitivity and improves metabolic health.
Lack of sleep also increase our appetite hormones, similar to when we have a hangover - so we eat more and it’s generally quick energy foods i.e.. sugar or refined carbohydrates. Getting to bed earlier, even an extra 30 mins of sleep makes a difference.
One of the biggest causes of glucose & insulin spikes is stress. I track my client's glucose levels and it’s very common to see glucose spikes when they’ve had a stressful afternoon, even though they haven't eaten.
Most of our stress is mental and emotional stress, it’s the worry and concern we carry around in our busy mind that triggers the stress response. Life is not without challenges, but the higher our personal wellbeing the more we can handle challenges and stress and continue to thrive.
4. Gut health/ Microbiome
Chronic inflammation contributes to metabolic disorders. A common source of inflammation is poor gut function.
Begin by correcting any underlying gut issues such as constipation, bloating, infections or imbalances. Maintain gut health by increasing high fibre foods like veggies, as they nourish the microbiome.
Minimise the foods that disrupt the gut such as sugar, processed foods and too much alcohol. Making changes to our diet and routine can feel challenging, but even implementing one change will make a difference.
Vesna Hrsto has been voted one of the top ten naturopaths in Australia and New Zealand.
For the past two decades, Vesna has made a name for herself as an Executive Wellbeing Coach and Mind-Body Peak Performance Specialist.
She has worked with thousands of high- achieving women around the country to help them experience elevated energy, mental clarity & peak physical wellness so they can reach their highest potential.
Learn more about Vesna here