The World's Healthiest Foods

How can I boost my metabolism?

We often hear people speak of "slow metabolism" and wanting to boost their metabolism, but in fact, this term can have many different meanings. In scientific research studies, the term "metabolic rate" refers to certain aspects of body chemistry, and it is usually measured by comparing the rate at which a person breathes in oxygen (O2) and the rate they breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2). This O2:CO2 ratio is used as the measurement of metabolic rate. While foods you eat are not totally unrelated to this O2:CO2 ratio, it's primarily the result of our genetic tendencies, hormonal balances, and other factors that extend beyond the dimensions of your diet.

But the term "slow metabolism" can have other meanings, and in many of these cases, food can make a difference. For example, if "slow metabolism" means "sluggish digestion," increased fiber intake, decreased total fat intake, less food at any one meal, more consistent timing of meals, increased time spent getting ready to eat, increased time spent eating, better chewing, and increased attention to the joy of food can all help improve digestive metabolism. Our digestive system responds to what are called "proprioceptive cues" - when we love the sight and smell of the food we're about to eat, our digestive system gets going in anticipation! This "jump starting" of our digestion improves its function.

Slow metabolism can also involve poor circulation and transport of molecules around the body, and foods that support the circulatory and molecular transport systems can help in this respect. The colorful flavonoid pigments in vegetables, for example, directly help to improve the integrity of the blood vessels, and can improve circulation in this way. Transport of many molecules also requires a good balance of amino acids contained in protein, and including some protein in every meal and snack can be helpful, whether it involves a sprinkle of navy beans or nuts on a tossed salad, or a piece of steamed salmon at lunch.

What may be even more helpful for boosting the efficiency of a person's metabolism and the vitality of their circulation is exercise. Exercise can strengthen all of the muscles along the digestive tract, and in this way improve the way food moves through us and gets metabolized. Exercise can also improve our blood flow, and make it easier for our body to shunt blood to the area around our digestive tract when it is time for us to absorb nutrients. We think about healthy exercise as a needed accompaniment to a meal plan centered around the World's Healthiest Foods.

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