Metabolism: How it Affects the Overall Well-Being of Kids

metabolic health

Metabolic health is crucial for overall good health and well-being, which is why nutritionists and medical professionals place such high importance on maintaining a good metabolism. While a healthy metabolism is vital for people of all ages, it’s even more important during those formative years of childhood and adolescence.

This article highlights the benefits of good metabolic health in kids, what the signs are of a healthy metabolism, and what the outcomes of a poor metabolism can be.

Metabolism explained

Metabolism is something that occurs in every cell in the human body. It’s a complex set of processes that transforms the food we eat into nutrients and substances that give our bodies the energy we require to get through the day. Those nutrients and substances include sugars from carbohydrates, amino acids and lipids.

A healthy metabolism in kids and people of all ages also plays a critical role in muscle growth, brain health, organ repair, as well as building immunity to fight off infections and diseases.

Signs of a healthy metabolism vary from person to person, as the body’s metabolic rate relies on numerous contributing factors. These include:

  • Genetics
  • Hormone function
  • Age
  • Existing medical conditions
  • Physical activity level
  • Muscle to fat ratio

While the signs of a healthy metabolism differ for each individual, generally you can define good metabolic health by stating that the body is effectively supporting its essential functions on a cellular level.

What is a fast metabolism?

People often mistake a healthy metabolism with a fast metabolism, but it’s not always true that a high metabolic rate is healthier than a slower one. The reason is that a fast metabolism is often associated with low body fat levels and the ability to overeat without gaining weight. This results from a fast metabolism burning calories rapidly.

A metabolism that’s too fast in children can lead to an inability to grow their bodies to a healthy weight range. It can also result in children developing habits of eating too much, something that could cause excessive weight gain as they grow older.

What is a slow metabolism?

A slow metabolism is regularly associated with being unhealthy. If someone is overweight, the assumption is their metabolism must be slow. It’s true that children (and adults) who have slower metabolisms struggle more with weight gain, but a slow metabolism could simply be due to genetics and not poor metabolic health overall.

Signs of good metabolic health in kids

How do you know if your child or teenager has good metabolic health? There are some key indicators that point to a healthy metabolism for youngsters and we’ll cover these now.

Your child has plenty of energy

Children are often very energetic compared to adults, so sometimes this one can be hard to pick. However, an obvious sign of an unhealthy metabolism is when your child lacks the energy to get through the day and seems lethargic much of the time. If their energy levels are up and are consistent, this is a great sign of positive metabolic health.

Your child recovers quickly from illness

We spoke about how a healthy metabolism plays a crucial role in boosting the immune system. Children will get sick and this is not an indicator of a poor metabolism. What indicates a healthy metabolic rate is how rapidly they recover from an illness. The body’s immune system and metabolism are closely connected, so fast recovery is a good sign all is well.

Healthy digestion

If your child experiences little to no gas or bloating following a meal, this is an indicator that their metabolic health is in good order. Regular and comfortable bowel movements are also a good sign. Bacteria in the gut turn food into vital nutrients. Microbial metabolism plays a role in maintaining good gut health. Good metabolic health promotes good bacteria and repels bad bacteria.

Stress levels are under control

Nutritionists and medical professionals state that regulated stress levels in children result from a healthy metabolism. Stress increases heart rate and blood pressure. This delivers more oxygen to the brain, heart and lungs to enable your child to deal with the stress. A healthy metabolism ensures a child’s body can cope by providing enough energy to support this increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

How to maintain good metabolic health in children

Armed with a greater understanding of what metabolism is and does, it’s time to tackle the subject of maintaining good metabolic health in children.

Physical activity

Children who are regularly physically active through playtime, getting involved in sports and generally living an active lifestyle will likely maintain good metabolic health. A healthy metabolism boosted by physical activity also continues to burn calories while your child is resting. This reduces the possibility of unhealthy weight gain.

Plenty of sleep

Kids need more sleep than adults so their growing bodies can recover from the rigours of the day. It’s also vital for maintaining a healthy metabolism. Poor sleep can cause hormonal changes which negatively affect metabolic rate.

Drink lots of water

Hydration is vital for the health and well-being of every bodily function and metabolism is no exception. Children are often so busy they forget to drink enough water to maintain hydration levels. Therefore, always make sure your child carries a water bottle with them at all times and remind them to drink water when at home.

Managing stress

When experiencing stress, the adrenal glands release cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone”. This enables kids to be able to deal with stress. However, too much stress leads to an over-production of this hormone and that can mess with metabolic health. Find ways to help your child relax. Physical activity is a fantastic stress reliever. Taking small breaks from stressful homework also helps relieve the pressure valve.

Feed your child protein

As protein is harder for the body to break down than other foods, the body uses more calories to complete the process. This can be beneficial for maintaining a healthy metabolism long-term for your child. Also, eating healthy regular meals at similar times of the day each day promotes good metabolic health.

Results of poor metabolic health in kids

Continued poor metabolic health in kids can result in potential weight gain, obesity, and also the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes. Chronic conditions such as heart disease can also result from an underperforming metabolic rate.

Help for families

At Childhood Obesity Prevention, we focus on helping families and children lead healthy lifestyles. Your child’s metabolic health is important and so is maintaining an ideal weight. If you have any issues or concerns about your child’s health, make an appointment today. Our Ride to Life book also contains a life-changing program to assist children and their families live healthy and active lives.