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Understanding the Metabolic Process

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“Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to maintain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments” (Metabolism). Metabolism breaks down the food that we eat, transforming it into energy for our bodies. Metabolism is broken down into two categories Anabolism and Catabolism, which help aid in the chemical reaction process. Specific proteins in the body control the chemical reactions of metabolism, and each chemical reaction is coordinated with other body functions (Dowshen).

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Metabolism is a constant process that begins when we’re born and ends when we die. It is a vital process for all life not just humans, and if it were to stop or we did not have metabolism we could not be alive. Metabolism generally deals eating and our digestive system. After food is eaten, molecules in the digestive system called enzymes break proteins down into amino acids, fats into fatty acids, and carbohydrates into simple sugars (for example, glucose).

In addition to sugar, both amino acids and fatty acids can be used as energy sources by the body when needed.

These compounds are absorbed into the blood, which then transports them to our cells throughout the body. After they enter the cells, other enzymes act to speed up or regulate the chemical reactions involved with metabolizing these compounds. “During these processes, the energy from these compounds can be released for use by the body or stored in body tissues, especially the liver, muscles, and body fat. In this way, the process of metabolism is really a balancing act involving two kinds of activities that go on at the same time. (Dowshen)

These are the building up of body tissues and storing energy, then breaking down the body tissues and energy stored to generate more fuel for body function. These are the roles of Anabolism and Catabolism (Dowshen). “Anabolism, also known as biosynthesis, is the process by which organisms make complex molecules and substances from less complex components. ”( Liden) Anabolism leads to growth in organisms as molecules are produced from smaller components and added to bones or muscles.

This process of growth requires raw components and energy which are produced through a process known as catabolism, in which large and complex molecules are broken down into simpler substances. Together, anabolic and catabolic processes make up the set of chemical processes known as metabolism, which is the set of life-sustaining reactions that occur in organisms for the maintenance of life. Anabolic processes are responsible for producing nearly all of the chemicals that organisms are composed of.

Processes of anabolism produce proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and many other substances that is essential to the development, growth, maintenance, and repair of the body. Anabolism is a divergent process, which means that it produces a massive variety of different complex molecules from a relatively low number of simple substances. Catabolism makes up the other half of metabolism as a whole, and is essential to the proper functioning of anabolism. Catabolic processes, such as digestion, are responsible for breaking large, complex molecules down into simpler forms so that they can be used for raw materials and energy in anabolic processes.

While anabolism is responsible for building new molecules, catabolism is responsible for breaking down other molecules. The energy released provides fuel for anabolism, heats the body, and enables the muscles to contract and the body to move. As complex chemical units are broken down into more simple substances, the waste products released in the process of catabolism are removed from the body through the skin, kidneys, lungs, and intestines. “If more anabolic activity than catabolic activity takes place, then net growth occurs, but net loss occurs when the rate of catabolism is higher than the rate of anabolism. (Liden)

This is the key factor in gaining or loosing weight. There are many hormones that are related to metabolism; these hormones are typically labeled anabolic or catabolic hormones based on whether they stimulate anabolic or catabolic pathways. Many of these hormones are natural and are completely necessary for proper functioning of the metabolic systems. Others, however, are administered artificially to stimulate growth or to increase strength and energy, legally or illegally. Anabolic steroids, for example, are used therapeutically to treat a variety of different conditions, such as delayed puberty.

They increase muscle growth and are closely related to testosterone, so they stimulate many other masculine features such as voice depth and hair growth. Some anabolic hormones include • “Growth hormone – a hormone made in the pituitary gland. Growth hormone stimulates the release of the hormone somatomedin by the liver, causing growth. • IGF1 and other insulin-like growth factors – hormones that simulate the production of protein and sulfate. IGF I and II are involved in the growth of the uterus and placenta, as well as the early growth of the fetus during pregnancy. Insulin – a hormone made by the beta cells in the pancreas. It regulates the level of sugar glucose in the blood. Cells cannot utilize glucose without insulin. • Testosterone – a male hormone produced mainly in the testes. Testosterone causes the development of male sex characteristics, such as a deep voice and a beard. It also strengthens muscles and bone mass. • Estrogen – a female hormone produced mainly in the ovaries. It is also involved in strengthening bone mass, as well as developing female characteristics such as breasts.

It is also involved in the thickening of the inner membrane of the uterus (endometrium) and other aspects of regulating the menstrual cycle. Examples of Catabolism include: • Polysaccharides are broken down into monosaccharides Complex carbohydrates, such as starch, glycogen, and cellulose are polysaccharides. Simple carbohydrates, such as glucose, ribose, and fructose are monosaccharides. • Nucleic acids are broken down into nucleotides Nucleic acids are the chemical basis of life and heredity – they encode our genetic information. They serve as transmitters of genetic information.

Examples are RNA (Ribonucleic acid) and DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid). Nucleic acids are broken down to purines, pyrimidines and pentoses, which among other things, are involved in our body’s energy supply. • Proteins are broken down into amino acids The amino acids produced by catabolism may be directly recycled, used to make new amino acids, or be converted to other compounds. Sometimes protein is broken down into amino acids to make glucose, which appears in the blood. ” (Nordqvist) Metabolism is a great influence on our weight. But unlike many beliefs it is not our metabolism’s fault that may cause us to be ver or under weight. People who are overweight typically consume more calories than our body can burn, and people who cannot gain weight do not consume enough calories for our body to burn. This may cause a lack of energy due to not enough enzymes being processed through the blood. Many dietary supplements are now available to speed up metabolism virtually causing weight loss. However looking to the products to lose weight can be dangerous. “Products that claim to speed up your metabolism are often more hype than help, and some may cause undesirable or even dangerous side effects.

There’s no magical way to lose weight. It comes down to exercise and diet. Taking in fewer calories than you burn, will cause you weight loss. ” (Mayo Clinic Staff) Understanding your basal metabolic rate can help in determining the minimal calories your body should take in according to your height, weight, gender, genetics and muscle mass in your body. There are many BMR calculators online that will give an accurate amount of the calories you should be taking in each day according to these factors. Sometimes in our body our metabolism does not function properly.

This is called a metabolic disorder. “A metabolic disorder is any disease that is caused by an abnormal chemical reaction in the body’s cells. Most disorders of metabolism involve either abnormal levels of enzymes or hormones or problems with the functioning of those enzymes or hormones. When the metabolism of body chemicals is blocked or defective, it can cause a buildup of toxic substances in the body or a deficiency of substances needed for normal body function. ” (Dowshen) Some metabolic diseases are inherited. These conditions are called inborn errors of metabolism.

If not discovered early in life and not treated most disorders cause serious health problems if not death. Some of the most common metabolic disorders include: • “G6PD deficiency. Without enough normal G6PD to help red blood cells handle certain harmful substances, red blood cells can be damaged or destroyed, leading to a condition known as hemolytic anemia. • Galactosemia. Babies born with this inborn error of metabolism do not have enough of the enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk called galactose. • Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is caused by an overactive thyroid gland. • Hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is caused by an absent or underactive thyroid gland and it results from a developmental problem or a destructive disease of the thyroid. • Type 1 diabetes mellitus. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce and secrete enough insulin. • Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes happens when the body can’t respond normally to insulin. ”( Dowshen) Metabolism is a key if not the most important function in our body. It helps maintain the energy throughout our bodies while also making sure our food is being digested. Without this function we cannot survive thus making it vital to our wellbeing.

Cite this Understanding the Metabolic Process

Understanding the Metabolic Process. (2017, Feb 17). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/understanding-the-metabolic-process/

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