Metabolism is one of many ways that animals and plants stay regulated. If there were no metabolism, we wouldn't have a steady body temperature or energy level, conditions we take for granted. Sometimes, metabolic rates vary or fluctuate, and this can be because of genetics, lifestyle or certain diseases.
Metabolism refers to the chemical processes a body undergoes to regulate and maintain functions, including heat, energy and weight levels. The thyroid, a gland in the neck, secretes a range of hormones that also help regulate metabolism. Body heat is one example of metabolism at work. Other examples include lipid metabolism, which controls the way the body handles fat production. This can influence your weight. Carbohydrate metabolism is another example, reflected in functions such as glucose and insulin levels.
Signs of Low Metabolism
Stress, lack of sleep, aging issues, exercise, fat consumption and other factors can influence low metabolism. Surgery or incomplete development of the thryroid gland are other factors. Hormone production is part of metabolism, so a low metabolism can result in hormonal effects such as fatigue or low energy, depression, weight gain or skin problems, along with irregular periods and reproductive issues. Heat and fat production are part of metabolism; therefore, a low metabolism can also result in lower body temperature and difficulty losing fat.
Signs of High Metabolism
High metabolic rates increase the body's demand for supplies to keep it running, such as oxygen and food. Whether high or low levels, the responsibilities of metabolism are the same -- to maintain heat levels, fat production and carbohydrate manufacturing. So while a person with a slow metabolism might have a lower body temperature, someone with a high metabolism will run warmer. When it comes to fat and weight issues, people with a high metabolism might have an easier time keeping weight off.
If You Think Your Metabolism Is Off
Although stress, sleep, diet, surgery or genetics can influence metabolism, certain diseases can also cause low or high metabolism. For example, Graves' disease is a common cause of hyperthyroidism, while Hashimoto's disease is a common cause of hypothyroidism. In both cases, improper hormone production is present and should be addressed by a doctor. Have your doctor run blood tests to check levels of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine so that any imbalance can be corrected.