We often hear the word metabolism used in conversations around body weight and described as either “fast” or “slow”. Someone may want a faster metabolism, for example, or complain about a slow metabolism if they’re not happy with their weight. In reality, metabolism simply refers to how our bodies turn food (and drinks) into energy. A healthy metabolism also supports overall wellness, including steady energy levels, positive mood, balanced hormones, and digestive health. A sluggish metabolism, on the other hand, might show up as fatigue, poor digestion, hormone imbalances, low mood, and trouble regulating body temperature.
You can think of your body and its metabolism like a composter. In order for your composter to produce nutrient-rich soil, you need three things:
- The right type and number of worms. Think of the worms as your gut bacteria. You will need the right type of worms in your compost bin to get to work on the scraps and turn them into high-quality soil. If you stop feeding your worms what they need to grow and thrive, they’ll leave to find other sources of nutrients, and your compost will suffer. On the bright side, if you keep your worms healthy and happy, you will see great results!
- A healthy diet. You can keep your worms happy by feeding them a nice balance of organic materials like fruits, veggies, paper, and grass clippings. For us, eating a variety of whole foods, especially plants, will support a diverse and plentiful gut microbiome, which is key for a healthy metabolism.
- Good conditions. Composting tends to slow down in the winter as temperatures drop. Similarly, our metabolisms will slow down or speed up under certain conditions. Illness, thyroid health, stress, sleep, exercise and movement, for example, all impact our metabolism.
Our organs and cells work synergistically to ensure an optimal metabolism. We can support our body’s metabolism through a healthy lifestyle - moving our bodies each day, managing stress, getting adequate restful sleep, and by eating real foods rich in the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed to efficiently turn carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy. Real foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high quality animal protein, legumes, nuts, seeds, and sea vegetables.
Some of these foods are more nutrient-dense than others, meaning they are especially high in nutrients compared to the number of calories they contain. To put this more plainly, a cupcake is high in calories, but low in nutrients. It has a low nutrient density. Spinach, on the other hand, is low-calorie and high in nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Spinach has a high nutrient density.
We call some of these high-nutrient dense foods superfoods. Superfoods are exceptionally high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants and offer a ton of nutritional benefits to support overall wellbeing.
There are several superfoods known to be high in the key nutrients needed to keep your metabolism humming. Here is a list of the top superfoods to support metabolism:
Green tea is often lauded for its high polyphenol (antioxidant) content, but it can also help support metabolism. EGCG, the abundant antioxidant in green tea, can improve insulin sensitivity and, especially when combined with green tea’s naturally occurring caffeine, can also help burn fat.
Nutritional yeast is commonly known to vegans for its cheesy flavor, but vegans also turn to nutritional yeast for its high levels of vitamin B12, a vitamin mostly found in animal products. Even if you choose to eat cheese and other animal foods, nutritional yeast is a great superfood to sprinkle on eggs or other savory dishes. In addition to B12, nutritional yeast is high in other B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and folate. These vitamins all work closely together and are referred to collectively as “B-complex.” B complex vitamins play an essential role in energy metabolism.
Coconut sometimes gets a bad rap for its high saturated fat content. But the saturated fats in coconut are different from those found in, say, a bacon cheeseburger. Coconut is high in medium-chain triglycerides, or MCT’s. MCT’s are different in that they are more readily used for energy (or “burned”) than stored as fat. They have been shown to support metabolism and may promote weight loss when consumed as part of a healthy and energy-balanced diet.
Seaweed and algae
Sea “vegetables” like seaweed and algae are becoming more popular, as they deserve! You may have heard of the popular superfoods chlorella and spirulina or consumed them unknowingly when you tried the blue lemonade at your local farmer’s market. But there are others, too! Kelp, dulse, kombu, wakame, and nori are common types of seaweed you can purchase in either sheets or flakes to add to sushi and soups or eat dried as a snack. Sea veggies are superfoods due to their high mineral content. They’re especially high in iodine, a mineral solely used by the thyroid to produce hormones that influence your body’s metabolism.
Cayenne pepper contains a compound called capsaicin, which is thought to be the component responsible for its health benefits, including pain relief, digestion, and cardiovascular health. In addition to these other perks, cayenne pepper has also been shown to increase metabolic rate and improve lipid oxidation (the fancy phrase for burning fat for energy), earning it a spot on our list of top superfoods to support metabolism.
The malabar tamarind, or Garcinia cambogia, is a fruit native to southern India where it’s dried and used in curries. Malabar tamarinds are a natural source of hydroxycitrate (HCA), which has been shown in studies to inhibit the conversion of carbohydrates into fat.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t wrap up our list with spinach, the OG superfood. Spinach is high in iron, magnesium, and manganese - minerals used in enzymes involved in energy production and metabolism. In addition, spinach is a good source of vitamin C, which enhances iron absorption in the body, further supporting its effects. Eat it raw or gently cooked to reap its many benefits.
Remember, this list highlights some of our favorite superfoods to support metabolism, but it’s not all-inclusive! An overall healthy lifestyle, including stress management, an active lifestyle, a balanced and diverse diet, and quality sleep are all important to support your metabolic pathways and a healthy metabolism.
If you’re feeling like you could use a little extra help in any of these areas, supplementing with Organifi products can help! For stress, we recommend our Green Juice, which contains the adaptogen ashwagandha, to help get your body back into equilibrium. Our Essential Magnesium also helps with stress, and supports a healthy metabolism by supplying a key building block for thyroid hormone conversion. Try our Collagen to help regulate fat metabolism and build lean muscle mass (more lean muscle mass = more energy burned). Lastly, to support a healthy gut microbiome, our Balance probiotic helps ensure the right balance of good bacteria to optimize digestion to improve nutrient absorption and energy production.