Metabolism and appetite?
What is metabolism?
Metabolism is the rate at which your body converts food to energy. Metabolic rate is governed by the Thyroid gland. The thyroid is a gland located just at the base of the neck (below the Adams Apple) and the hormones it produces set the resting rate of energy production (metabolism) and also influences the nervous system. Please see your health care professional to enquire if thyroid function is involved with your current condition.
Stimulating metabolism and digestion
One way to kick start your digestion and increase appetite in the mornings is a glass of warm water with ½ lemon squeezed in it. Lemon juice stimulates digestive and liver function and cleanses the bowel.
A good breakfast is very important to fire up the digestive burner for the day. A healthy breakfast may consist of a good quality protein source (such as yoghurt, nuts & seeds) and complex carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains) Try to combine a small portion of protein with complex carbohydrates - for example unsweetened muesli and yoghurt, or whole grain toast and egg. Get the most out of your food with the good old fashioned process of food preparation.
Every meal is important and taking time to prepare a beautiful meal ensures you get maximum enjoyment and nutrition from your food. The aromas that arise in the cooking and the act of preparing the food triggers gastric secretions in the digestive system. The simple act of setting the dining table creates a mental and emotional state where your body feels honoured and the celebration of life giving food is fully realised Experiment with different herb seasonings even grow your own. Seasoning herbs tend to aid digestion and stimulate the digestive secretions.
Diet tips for metabolism and appetite
- Eat more bitter foods to stimulate liver and gall bladder function such as rocket, endive, raddichio, bitter lettuces and kale. Also eating foods high in sulphur help to stimulate liver detoxification such as garlic, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, broccoli, cauliflower and radish
- Have a vegetable juice each day (beetroot, carrot, celery and ginger) as these encourage liver detoxification, alkalise and cleanse the system and provide vitamin C to move the bowel
- Ensure adequate water intake as dehydration is the leading cause of low digestive capabilities. The thirst centre in the brain is also closely related to appetite, dehydration may affect metabolism by confusing the signals to the brain in regards to appetite stimulation
- Ensure adequate protein intake to regulate metabolism, protein rich foods are organic red meat and chicken, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds and tofu
- Eat 4 or 5 small meals throughout the day, rather than 3 large ones. This 'grazing effect' keeps your metabolism working at a higher rate throughout the day and stimulates the appetite
- Including spices in your diet may help to increase metabolism by adding thermogenic action to the digestive system and raising the heat of the body to encourage the digestive juices to flow. Spices such as Chilli, tumeric, garlic, cumin
- Reduce your consumption of saturated fats derived from an animal source or a by product of an animal such as: red meat, dairy, pies and pasties, hamburgers. Saturated fats decrease the appetite by decreasing the transit time of food through the digestive tract, reducing metabolism and affecting digestive and liver health. High fibre diets may also have the same effect
- Make sure the majority of your food intake is from fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods are cleansing to the system. Also include whole grain foods and good quality protein (such as almonds, fish, and organic dairy products). Increase lean good quality protein at each meal. Have lean beef, lamb, tofu, beans, eggs; increase whole grains such as oats, brown rice, spelt, barley, millet, rye etc; increase full spectrum of vegetables and fruit of all colours; snack on almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. Variety is the spice of life!
- Avoid soda drinks as these can affect the absorption of vital minerals and also cause over-stimulation of the nervous system due to the high amount of caffeine and sugar and they reduce the appetite for healthy foods. Sparkling apple juice or better pure water is a healthier alternative
- Some herbal teas to aid digestion are - Dandelion, fenugreek, fennel, Spearmint, Burdock, Peppermint, lemon and ginger. Some other useful herbs include alfalfa, anise seed and cinnamon
- Appetite is also aided by the herbs known as the Swedish bitters, the combination of these herbs have been used traditionally for centuries
Lifestyle factors for metabolism and appetite
- Check gall bladder and liver function as a decline in the functioning of these organs can dramatically affect the ability to digest foods and eliminate wastes. Bile produced in the gall bladder ensures adequate break down of foods and also helps to lubricate the bowel
- Reduce cortisol levels by managing stress and nervous system tension. Cortisol and other stress hormones such as adrenaline may reduce the appetite and cause a decrease in digestive function
Natural remedies for metabolism and appetite
- Probiotics help to increase beneficial bacteria, as an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria in the bowels is a contributing factor to sluggish digestion
- Mineral deficiencies such as Iron, Zinc and Magnesium are directly linked with low appetite.
- Digestive enzymes help to encourage adequate amounts of digestive juices to increase the appetite and ensure healthy absorption of food
- Vitamin B6 stimulates the production of stomach acids and increases digestive processes
- Herbs which have a specific effect on improving the appetite are Spearmint, Peppermint, Bitter Melon, Barberry, Tienchi ginseng and Gentian. Red wine, grapefruit and apples also increase the appetite by stimulating the digestive secretions