The Importance of Metabolic Health

If you have a chronic disease or experience symptoms like ongoing fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and/or trouble sleeping, it could be related to your metabolic health. In fact, we’ve learned much more about the importance of metabolic health in recent years, including its close connection to a person’s overall health and well-being. For example, we now know that people with poor metabolic health are more likely to develop chronic illnesses, like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. Additionally, those with poor metabolic health often report more feelings of tiredness, difficulty focusing, and trouble sleeping and tend to live shorter lives than those with good metabolic health.

Are you concerned about your metabolic health? Thankfully, there are steps you can take to improve it. Optimizing your metabolic health can help reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your overall quality of life, and even help you live longer. Read on to learn more about metabolic health, how to improve yours, and how MindStream Integrative Medicine can help.

What is metabolic health?

Metabolic health is a term used to describe how well your body converts food into energy and uses that energy. It is important for overall health and well-being and can also help to prevent chronic diseases. Additionally, several factors can influence metabolic health, including your weight, diet, and physical activity level.

What are the benefits of optimizing your metabolic health?

There are many reasons why someone would want to improve their metabolic health. Here are a few of them:

  • To reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Metabolic health is closely linked to the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. By improving their metabolic health, people can reduce their risk of developing these diseases.
  • To lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Having good metabolic health can make it easier to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. This is because people with good metabolic health are better able to use glucose for energy and are less likely to store excess glucose as fat.
  • To improve energy levels. People with good metabolic health tend to have more energy. This is because their bodies can use energy more efficiently.
  • To improve mood and cognitive function. Metabolic health is also linked to mood and cognitive function. People with good metabolic health tend to have better mood and cognitive function.
  • To improve overall health and well-being. Having good metabolic health is associated with overall better health and well-being. People with good metabolic health tend to live longer and have a higher quality of life.

How do you measure metabolic health?

There are five key factors used to determine someone’s metabolic health. These are:

  1. Blood sugar levels: Blood sugar levels should be kept within a healthy range. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) defines a healthy blood sugar level as:
    • Fasting blood sugar: 70 to 100 mg/dL (3.9 to 5.6 mmol/L).
    • After a meal (2 hours): Less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L).
    • A1C: Less than 5.7%.
  2. Triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fat that can build up in the blood. High triglyceride levels can increase the risk of heart disease. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines healthy triglyceride levels for adults as:
    • Below 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
  3. HDL cholesterol: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol because it helps to remove bad cholesterol from the blood. A healthy HDL cholesterol level for adults is:
    • Around 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher.
  4. Blood pressure: Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood away from your heart. It is measured in two numbers: systolic blood pressure (the top number) and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). A healthy blood pressure level is:
    • Systolic blood pressure less than 120 mmHg.
    • Diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mmHg.
  5. Waist Circumference: A large waist circumference is a sign of excess belly fat, which can increase the risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines a healthy waist circumference for adults as:
    • Men: Less than 40 inches (102 cm).
    • Women: Less than 35 inches (88 cm).

If you have optimal metabolic health, you will have healthy levels of all the factors listed above. However, if you have 3 or more of these factors outside of the healthy range, you may have metabolic syndrome.

What is metabolic syndrome (AKA insulin resistance syndrome)?

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increase your chances of developing chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 42% of adults in the United States have metabolic syndrome. The risk of developing metabolic syndrome increases with age, obesity, and physical inactivity.

It is important to know if you have metabolic syndrome so that you can take steps to manage it and reduce your risk of developing these diseases or other symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have metabolic syndrome.

How can I improve my metabolic health?

here are several things you can do to take charge of your metabolic health. Here are a few tips:

  • Eat a healthy diet. This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. It also means limiting processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight can have a big impact on your metabolic health.
  • Get enough sleep. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Manage stress. Stress can contribute to unhealthy eating habits and weight gain. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking damages your heart and lungs and can also contribute to insulin resistance.

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness or simply want to be as healthy as possible, optimizing your metabolic health is always a good idea.

How can MindStream help me optimize my metabolic health?

At MindStream, we are uniquely positioned to help patients improve, not only their metabolic health but also their overall health and well-being. We work with patients to develop personalized health plans that address their specific needs, goals, and circumstances. Additionally, we offer a holistic approach to care, including access to a network of health and wellness specialists in both traditional and non-traditional fields. Here are just a few services we offer to help patients optimize their metabolic health:

Metabolic Health Tools and Testing/Analysis

We are equipped with state-of-the-art technology to help us analyze patients’ metabolic health. Using information from personal biofeedback devices such as WHOOP, Apple Watch, Garmin, and Lumen, we can work with you to gain insights from using the device. We also offer the following in-office tests:

    • Resting Metabolic Rate Testing: This test takes a measurement of your body’s caloric consumption at complete rest, based on the force and composition of the air you exhale. Using this baseline metabolic rate, we can make recommendations about your calorie expenditures at rest. This can provide a valuable reference point from which to measure improvements in metabolic health over time.
    • V02 Max Testing: This test takes a measurement of cardiorespiratory efficiency, allowing us to analyze your body’s ability to consume oxygen while exercising. Your VO2 max score (measured in mL of oxygen consumed per kg of body weight per minute) is a major predictor of cardiac health, lifespan, and “health span” (the number of years spent living a healthy life). By understanding your cardiometabolic efficiency, we can tailor your exercise to improve this, which can have a significant impact on your risk of dying.

Phlebotomy and Lab Testing/Analysis

Lab testing is a valuable tool for assessing metabolic health. We like to help you identify biomarkers that you can use to understand if your efforts are working. Examples of labs that assess factors that can affect metabolism include:

    • Blood sugar levels
    • Cholesterol levels
    • Triglyceride levels
    • Blood pressure
    • Kidney function
    • Liver enzymes
    • Inflammation markers
    • Adrenal and pituitary hormones
    • Sex hormones
    • And more

Nutrition Counseling

Our registered dietician and functional nutrition coaches provide patients with an approach to nutrition that goes beyond balancing diet. We include consideration for emotions around eating and pay special attention to medical conditions and personal preferences. We feel that the best nutrition advice is the kind you use, with good support and feedback. Nutrition counseling can help you improve your metabolic health by:

    • Evaluating your current diet and lifestyle
    • Developing a personalized nutrition plan
    • Educating you about healthy eating
    • Helping you make healthy changes to your diet
    • Tracking your progress

Health Coaching

Here are a few ways our health coaching services can help patients improve their metabolic health:

    • We work collaboratively with your medical team to guide you in prioritizing the nutrition, lifestyle, and behavior modifications to help you reach your health goals.
    • We take a holistic approach to wellness focusing on nutrition, sleep, stress management, emotional health, mindset, and movement.
    • We provide you with the knowledge, accountability, and support you need to optimize your well-being and most importantly, feel your best.

Movement Practices, Including Yoga and Pilates

Yoga and Pilates are types of low-impact exercises that can help improve metabolic health. They can help to:

    • Reduce stress: Stress can lead to unhealthy changes in metabolism, so reducing stress can help to improve it. Yoga and Pilates can help to reduce stress by teaching you relaxation techniques and by helping you to focus on your breath.
    • Improve flexibility: Flexibility is important for good metabolic health, as it allows your muscles to work more efficiently. Yoga and Pilates can help to improve flexibility by stretching your muscles and strengthening your core.
    • Increase muscle mass: Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, so increasing muscle mass can help boost your metabolism. Yoga and Pilates can help to increase muscle mass by strengthening your muscles.
    • Improve posture: Good posture can help to improve your breathing and circulation, which can both benefit metabolic health. Yoga and Pilates can help to improve posture by strengthening your core and by teaching you how to stand and sit with good alignment.
    • Improve balance: Balance is important for preventing falls, which can be a problem for people with metabolic health issues. Yoga and Pilates can help to improve balance by challenging your body’s equilibrium

Weightlifting and Personal Training

Weight lifting and specific efforts to maintain muscle mass grow more important with age, particularly beyond the age of 40, when we start to lose bone and muscle at rates of 1% per year or more. We tailor our weight training to your needs, working with you to prevent injury and monitor progress. Including weight training in your overall health strategy can help to:

    • Improve bone health for women and men: weight training, unlike medications for osteopenia and osteoporosis, can actually help to build back bone mineral density.
    • Reduce the risk of falls as you age by maintaining strength, speed, and flexibility.
    • Improve sleep quality: weight training improves sleep quality like all exercise does, but appears to be the most effective type of exercise when it comes to sleep quality improvements for reasons that remain elusive.
    • Improve mood and enhance stress relief: weight training helps improve mood and prevents mood relapse. We understand that part of mood disorders is the lack of desire to engage with things like a workout, and we work to support our clients through engagement and rapport.
    • Improve metabolic health and even eliminate disease: we have clients who have successfully treated their insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and osteopenia using weight training
    • Extend lifespan: strength, speed, and flexibility are attributes of a healthy aging body. As strength declines, so does vitality. We work with you to extend your health span as you age.

Are you ready to optimize your metabolic health? 

If you are ready to take charge of your metabolic health or simply want to learn more, call 615.541.9933 or email us at

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About Dr. Amy Price Neff

Dr. Price Neff is board certified in Integrative Medicine by the American Board of Integrative Medicine. A board-certified Family Medicine doctor, she is also fellowship trained in psychedelic medicine and psychiatric medicine. Additionally, she has studied Ayurvedic Medicine, as well as deep inquiries into the microbiome, cancer metabolism, nutrition, mindfulness, medications and the mind, autoimmunity, and the clinical questions that come up in daily practice. For the team at MindStream, the excitement that comes from continuous learning is one of the most precious fuels for practice. Learn more about Dr. Neff and the MindStream team.

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