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    How Metabolism Changes as we Age

      |  Mar 23, 2023

    Metabolism is a complex process that is responsible for converting food into energy that our bodies can use. It is a critical function that is necessary for our survival, and plays a key role in maintaining our health and wellbeing. The process of metabolism is composed of two main components: nutrient sensing and mitochondrial function.

    Nutrient sensing involves hormones like insulin and receptors like the GLUT receptors that bring nutrients into the cells. 

    • Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to regulate blood sugar levels by transporting glucose from the bloodstream into the cells where it can be used for energy.

    •  GLUT receptors are responsible for bringing nutrients such as glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids into the cells. 

    These nutrients are essential for the proper functioning of our cells and are used to produce energy as well as new cell generation.

    After nutrition is taken into the cell, mitochondrial function is responsible for converting these nutrients into energy that can be used by the cell. Mitochondria are small organelles found in cells that are responsible for producing ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the molecule that our cells use for energy. The process of converting nutrients into ATP involves a series of complex biochemical reactions that take place inside the mitochondria.

    As we age, our metabolism undergoes significant changes that can have a profound impact on our health. According to a recent paper published in Science, by one measure- total energy expenditure, it appears that metabolism peaks at 1 year of age, declines until age 20, and then actually remains relatively stable until age 60 when it begins to decline again.
    However, these measurements only tell part of the story. We need to consider things at the cellular level, and it is here that the components of metabolism- nutrient sensing and mitochondrial function- experience significant changes as we get older.

    Impaired nutrient sensing and mitochondrial dysfunction are two of the nine key cellular hallmarks of aging. Nutrient sensing issues can have wide-ranging issues, from insulin resistance to weight gain, and ultimately inflammation, all of which drive a multitude of chronic diseases. Insulin resistance occurs when cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, leading to high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. This can result in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems.

    Similarly, mitochondrial dysfunction underpins a wide number of diseases associated with aging. Mitochondrial dysfunction occurs when the mitochondria are not functioning properly, leading to a reduction in ATP production and an accumulation of harmful by-products in the cell. This can lead to a wide range of health problems, including neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

    The best thing one can do today is to measure how their metabolism is performing against these parameters. A hemoglobin A1c test can be a great way to gain insight into nutrient sensing. This test measures the average blood sugar levels over the past three months and can help to identify early signs of insulin resistance. Other tests such as urinary organic acid testing can measure breakdown products of mitochondrial metabolism, providing insight into mitochondrial function. Additionally, measures of inflammation such as C-reactive protein can reveal issues that may be underpinned by mitochondrial function.

    Stop in for a free consultation today to learn about your options and how you can manage your metabolism at Modern Age!