This is the fourth of a five-part series on Metabolism.
While the assembly line has been moving through the gut a lot has been happening in the blood. It looks the same to the naked eye but microscopically the types of message hormones being sent have changed and new messages are flying through the blood. The sugars, triglycerides, and amino acids released into the blood during digestion have change the status quo in the cells. The cellular machine switches gears and starts to move in a new direction. The body was in the fasting state and now it is in the fed state.
Metabolism is the process of snapping apart the macronutrients into their amino acid, fatty acid and sugar beads and then burning some of these beads to make energy and using others to build the new proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Carbohydrate metabolism, fat metabolism and protein metabolism are interwoven and what one does affects them all. We will go into detail on carbohydrate metabolism because that is the nutrient most directly involved in diabetes.
The first part of metabolism is catabolism when large molecules are torn apart into small ones and energy is produced. The second part of metabolism is anabolism when small molecules are used to build large molecules and energy is used. Active cells are going to have a higher metabolic rate than less active cells. Catabolism and anabolism are constantly occurring and in balance. Untreated disorders such as diabetes can disrupt this balance The body does not take in energy and ends up consuming itself.
The delicate balance and interplay of fat and carbohydrate metabolism is regulated by the hormones insulin and glucagon. In general, insulin tells the body that glucose is available – use it to make more of everything while you can. Glucagon tells the body that there is no glucose – find some way to get more into the blood and burn fatty acids for energy in the meantime.