Metabolic Balance? Ah, So That’s What You Mean!

Forget about body brushing! Did you know that metabolic balance is the key to better energy levels, weight management and sound sleep too?

Are we on the same page? Or even reading the same book? When it comes to questions about ‘metabolic balance’, your first thoughts may be of detox, better skin, and regular trips to the loo. But with the metabolic crises of pre-diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome potentially looming, it makes sense to get up to speed on the matter, and understand exactly what you can do to safeguard your health.

Are we thinking about the same thing?…

If I said to you: I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘metabolism’, would you really know what I mean? I’ve been told: “Isn’t it about glowing skin, or healthier digestion, and going to the loo more often”. Others have thought similarly: “Metabolism’s just another word for detox.”

Well, it’s true that if your feeling spotty or stale, or that your system’s a ‘little bit slow’, then your thoughts will turn to finding ways to improve your sluggish metabolism. So, depending on your enthusiasms and inclinations, detoxing, enemas, milk thistle and artichoke, juicing, good bacteria, fasting or digestive enzymes may make a star appearance in your every day life.

There’s more to metabolism than meets the eye P.S It’s essential for life…

So far, so obvious. But would you wonder Is there actually more to this metabolism malarkey?, if I asked you to think about ‘metabolic balance’. Metabolism is much more than detoxing and clearing out waste matter (which happens each and every second of our lives, incidentally). It includes the processes which convert the food we eat into fuel for our cells. It also includes the transformation of food into molecules that help our cells repair and grow. Without metabolism, we simply could not survive. Do you see how crucial healthy metabolism is?

Many disorders are warning signals of a chronic metabolic imbalance…

That’s why when it comes to metabolic balance, and imbalance, there’s a real potential for your health to take a significant turn for the worse. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of compelling evidence that for many of us this is already a reality. Consider the many types of disorders which have some type of metabolic imbalance at their root.  We’re experiencing them more and more often. Take pre-diabetes and diabetes for example. According to DiabetesUK, around 4 million people in the UK have diabetes, but an estimated 18 million people have pre-diabetes, and many of them don’t even know it. Then there’s cardiovascular disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Did you know they’re all on the increase too? (You may not have heard about metabolic syndrome, which is like a jackpot where you have at least three out of five conditions. Unfortunately the choice includes raised blood pressure, insulin resistance, high blood fats, low good cholesterol, and fat around the middle.)

If you understand the problem you can improve your health risks…

I could caution you: ‘Beware, there’s a crisis!’. You might even be tempted to stick your head in the sand, hoping that you’ll never be affected. But I believe it helps to know what the issue is, simply because increasing your understanding is a good way to stop feeling stuck, scared and helpless. I believe the more knowledge you have of how to address a problem, the more options you have to attain better health. Perhaps you feel the same?

So, let’s get back to metabolic balance, and what to do if things go wrong.

Say ‘hi’ to Sarah…

Meet Sarah. She’s 37, married, with a 4-year-old. Her husband reassures her she’s perfect. Her giggling daughter calls her tummy ‘mummy’s squashy doughnut’. Recently her right knee has been really hurting by the time she’s walked to the playground on Saturday, so she went for a checkup. She’s just been told by her GP that her knee is a bit inflamed, but he’s concerned because her blood pressure is high and she has ‘borderline’ diabetes. Sarah knows she needs to lose a bit of weight, but what she wants is to enjoy playing with Amy and feel less scared about her future.

Weight loss, lowering blood pressure, reducing diabetes risk, managing inflammation and pain in her knee. Right now, Sarah is thinking about her metabolism and encouraging metabolic balance. She’s also wondering where to begin, and is feeling pretty overwhelmed.

But what if she decided to break things down into manageable steps instead?

You may already be thinking about some aspect of your metabolism: What can help me feel less bunged up and sluggish? How do I lose fat and build muscle? What are the best foods to eat for my energy? How do I tackle pain and inflammation? How can I stop feeling so tired and grumpy? My blood pressure is sky high, how do I get it down? How can I get better blood glucose control?

If you’re like Sarah, and have some big life changes to make, then here is the strongest advice I can give:


Two simple steps for greater success…


Always consider what you already like to do.

You decide to do a gentle detox.

  • I could start having Epsom salt baths and body brushing.
  • I’ll drink a little less alcohol during the week
  • I’m definitely going to replace my morning coffee with a green juice?

These are all reasonable adjustments, but not if your next thought is: But I’ve only got a shower… I don’t drink that much booze (but I love crisps and chips)… I really can’t face eating or drinking anything in the morning! 


Alternatively, perhaps addressing inflammation makes more sense at this moment. You’ve also got dermatitis, or gastritis or arthritis, or any ‘-itis’ for that matter (these are all signs that your inflammatory processes are a little out of tune).

  • I have to eat sardines, mackerel and some other oily fish.
  • I’m going to cook with turmeric?
  • I’m definitely going to cut back and eat fewer fried foods?

Once again, all smart first steps, but not if you’re going to say: I’m vegetarian… I hate spiced foods and curries… Ha, I’ve got such a sweet tooth – cakes, sweets and biscuits are my favourite foods! 

Remember, change is much easier when you consider your likes, dislikes and everyday habits and take them into account.


Ask for help.

Rest assured you have plenty of company: there are many people in similar situations, many hoping to achieve the same thing – to feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to reduce their potential health risks, and basically to feel much more ‘well’.

Remember, change is much easier when you feel supported – so join a club, share your plans with a friend, and seek help from someone you trust.

One last thought…

You may find a regular detox and a few subtle diet tweaks may be enough to get things moving, but if you have a metabolic health issue there will be a few more steps and safety measures to include. Just remember to keep your GP up to date with your plans as you explore the many different starting points on your path to optimal metabolic health.

Incidentally Sarah started going swimming twice a week – once with Amy and once by herself – because she got some exercise and it didn’t make her knee hurt. She also cut up some raw veg – mostly carrots and cucumbers – to share when Amy had her lunch. That way she was less likely to eat Amy’s leftovers, and just eat her own meals.

A brilliant start, don’t you think?


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Your Turn

Is your metabolic balance currently a cause for concern? Do you feel slow and sluggish and in need of a little support? Or do you have a metabolically-based health issue that you’re hoping, or working hard, to address? What’s the first thing you intend to do?

I really love hearing of your health hopes and plans. Especially when you offer to share your personal experience with others in the Nutrition with Nina community. It certainly helps to know you don’t have to struggle with uncertainty and confusion on your own. So thanks for taking the time to add your comments below.

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