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The Power of Metabolism
by Diana Schwarzbein, M.D.

Your health is based on your metabolism functioning optimally, not on your current weight issues. It is worse to lose weight by doing all the wrong things than it is to be overweight

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the body was so simple that all you had to do is watch how many calories you ate versus how many calories you expended in order to stay thin and healthy? Well, many of you know that it has to be more complicated than that because you may have already been following that advice with mixed results. You know that if “calories in equaled calories out” you would not be searching for new answers as to why you do not have the body composition and overall health you want.

Your metabolism is how your body does what it needs to do: Every day cells in your body are destroyed or damaged by the wear and tear of living, and each day it is the job of your metabolism to regenerate or repair these cells. Your metabolism is also responsible for creating new hormones, enzymes, antibodies, neurotransmitters, other cellular chemicals, energy and energy stores (in the form of fats and glycogen)--and using all it creates to help you perform your daily tasks.

There are two sides to your metabolism: the building side and the using-up side. To be healthy, these two sides must be kept in chemical balance. When you eat well and rest, your body turns into a building machine. When you are not eating, not eating well, or you are running around doing things, your body switches into using-up mode.

Your job is to keep your body functioning efficiently by keeping your metabolism running at its optimum. Because the using-up side is constantly breaking you down, balance can only occur when you give yourself the means to rebuild what you use.

Many people assume the metabolism formula is simple: food becomes energy and activity expends energy. Unfortunately, that is far too simplistic an explanation for what actually goes on in your body. In reality, there are a few more layers. Food, sleep, stress, exercise, toxic chemicals, and hormone problems all affect your chemistry.

For instance, food becomes structural and functional chemicals that are used along with energy during the activity of daily life--but processed, damaged foods cannot be used by your body for any legitimate purpose. Furthermore, it is mainly during sleep that your body has the time to rest and catch up on building itself, and if you cut this time short you will not rebuild completely, no matter how healthy your diet. You build more efficiently in the dark than you do in the light, which is why it is important to sleep during the night. You also rebuild slower when it is cold than when it is warm; therefore, you need to sleep more in the winter in order to maintain a balanced metabolism.

The opposite happens with stress and overexercising. When you are under acute or chronic stress, or when you exercise to exhaustion, your body burns itself up more rapidly. This is why fidgety people and heavy exercisers are often thin, but rarely healthy. This is especially true as you get older and your ability to regenerate decreases. The older you are, the harder it is to handle and recover from stress and the more likely cardiovascular exercise will cause irreparable damage to your body.

What about the effects of unnatural or toxic substances? Toxic chemicals like tobacco, alcohol and sugar are temporary boosts that fool your body into thinking it is in better shape than it is. The same is true of caffeine and other stimulants. These chemicals only mask your body’s deficiencies; in essence, they rewire your chemistry for a short-term result, but in the end they leave the system disoriented and out of whack. Even worse, these substances don’t help the body rebuild, so they cause damage to your metabolism.

A similar phenomenon happens with medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter. Since the dawn of time, the body has used chemicals known as orthomolecules to carry out many of its functions. When you ingest medicine, you displace orthomolecules with foreign substances. This is why, although drugs often help one part of your physiology, most of them cause side effects that are just as bad or worse than what is being treated. You are better off not using any drugs at all, if you can help it. (Do not stop taking your drugs without first consulting your primary care physician.)

Your health is based on your metabolism functioning optimally, not on your current weight issues. It is worse to lose weight or to keep weight off by doing all the wrong things than it is to be overweight. You can be thin and have a damaged metabolism; you can be overweight and have a relatively healthy metabolism. But when your metabolism is completely healthy and you have a healthy diet and lifestyle, you will reach the ideal weight and size for your body.

You may be more concerned about your excess fat weight than healing your metabolism because you can see your fat but you can’t see your metabolism. And even worse, you know other people can see it, too. Though your feelings are understandable, the issue of your fat weight is secondary to your body’s ability to regenerate. You need to eat well to build well, and you need to be healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to be healthy.

When you embrace the fact that your metabolism is more important than your weight, and that a healthy life is more important than a trim waist, you will make the necessary changes to your daily habits that will ensure you live longer without disease. Once you have healed your metabolism, you can start burning off your excess fat weight.

Excerpted with permission from The Schwarzbein Principle: The Program, 2004 by Diana Schwarzbein, published by Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. Available in stores or visit www.hcibooks.com

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