What Is The Metabolism? How the Thyroid and Metabolism Work

What exactly is the metabolism and what does it do?  Isn’t it just the ability to lose weight quickly?  Is it actually that important?  YES!  It is incredibly important!  Keep reading to find out what the metabolism is exactly, how it works, and why it’s so important!

What is the Metabolism?

In my previous post, I shared how the metabolism affects digestion and gut health.  And if you follow me on Instagram, @nourishwithbritt, you’ve probably seen me share more about it there.  But let’s back it up and talk just about what the metabolism is and why it’s important.

Cellular metabolism is the sum of all the chemical reactions going on in the body’s cells.

The Processes

Metabolism includes two types of processes.

  1. Catabolic processes – break down molecules into smaller units.  This process CREATES energy from glucose.
  2. Anabolic process – build molecules up from smaller units.  And it USES energy.  So this includes building muscles, strengthening bones, creating hormones, storing excess nutrients, and producing glucose from fat or protein stores.

Both processes work together in metabolism.

Metabolism involves the process of breaking down food into all it’s tiny parts and converting it into energy.

It breaks food down into:

  • sugars,
  • amino acids (the building blocks of protein),
  • fats,
  • vitamins,
  • minerals, and
  • toxins. 

And then it uses glucose that it breaks down in carbohydrates and oxygen that we breathe to create energy. The cells are then able to use that energy to perform their jobs.

The Thyroid

Our metabolism is controlled by the thyroid gland, which is so important to our overall health.  We can’t talk about the metabolism without talking about the thyroid. The thyroid is like the thermostat of the body – regulating our temperature as well as how fast or slow our metabolism is.  

The thyroid produces the hormones, T3 and T4.

Two glands in the brain are responsible for signaling the thyroid to make the thyroid hormones – the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.  They’re the ones that set the thermostat.  The hypothalamus releases the hormone TRH, or thyroptin-releasing hormone.  And TRH tells the pituitary gland to release TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone.  And TSH tells the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones. 

So lots of hormones going on here. Hormones are basically little chemical messengers that travel through different parts of your body through the blood.

So the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland set the temperature for the thyroid and the thyroid makes sure the body stays at that temperature, or that speed, through the thyroid’s hormones.

what is the metabolism

The Thyroid Hormones

T3 is the active form, and T4 is the inactive form.  The thyroid produces about 4x as much T4 as T3.  The body then has to convert T4 into T3 so that it can be used.  Most of that conversion takes place in the liver. 

But T4 can also be converted to Reverse T3, which competes with T3 at the receptors.   Every cell in the body has a thyroid receptor.  And we want T3 to be able to get to it, not Reverse T3.  Things like stress and nutrient defenses can hinder the conversion of T4 to T3 though.  

When T3 get to the cells it regulates it’s metabolism.  It tells the cells how quickly or how slowly to create energy and perform their jobs.

Every organ, tissue, and cell in the body depends on thyroid hormone and every cell uses energy.

Energy is needed to:

  1. Breathe
  2. Build muscles
  3. Move our muscles
  4. Digest food
  5. Create and excrete digestive enzymes
  6. Absorb nutrients
  7. Detox toxins in our food, our air, and things we come in contact with, as well as excess hormones
  8. Produce hormones
  9. Grow healthy hair
  10. Fight off sickness
  11. Keep our skin healthy
  12. Ane everything else

Metabolism Is a great picture of your overall health.  If your body is healthy and everything’s running well, your metabolism’s running well.  But if your metabolism is either running too slow or too fast, problems can occur. 

Watch my video breaking down the metabolism here!

Problems with the Thyroid

Two problems that can occur with your thyroid are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

  1. Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid is producing too many thyroid hormones and your metabolism speeds up.  It can cause problems like: rapid weight loss, anxiety, irritability, fast heart rate, hyperactivity, hair loss, shaking, oily skin, high temperature, and light periods.
  2. Hypothyroidism is when either your thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones or you have a low conversion of T4 to T3.  So your T3 is low either way and your metabolism slows down.  It can cause symptoms including other hormonal imbalances, fatigue, brain fog, memory problems, trouble concentrating, depression,weight gain,  dry skin and hair, heavy periods, low libido, infertility, insomnia, frequent illnesses, muscle pain and weakness, slow heart rate, low temperature.

What to Do for Our Metabolism

In order to have a healthy body that’s able to defend against viruses, allergens, and other pathogens, manage stress properly, digest and absorb nutrients well, maintain good, stable energy, maintain a healthy weight, and do all the functions it’s supposed to do, it’s important to make sure we’re supporting our thyroid and our metabolism.  We want a healthy metabolism that’s not too slow and not too fast.

More on that coming up later.  But, one major factor in making sure you’re producing thyroid hormones like you’re supposed to and you’re T4 is converting well, is STRESS.  Stress required cortisol.  The hypothalamus and the pituitary glands are busy signaling the adrenal glands to keep the cortisol coming.  It’s not as concerned about the thyroid hormones.  So most people experience a slow metabolism under chronic stress.

Check out my Stress Relieving Protocol for help with that.  It’s a free guide with 5 easy-to-implement steps to help you overcome stress and work towards healing your metabolism.

Do you think your metabolism is running too slow, too fast, or healthy?

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