Metabolism is a magical word; it sums the trillions of dynamic biochemical reactions continuously taking place every second to keep the body alive and healthy.
All these complex processes are divisible into two types of reactions. Reactions involved with breaking down large molecules into smaller ones (catabolism); thereby, producing nutrients for energy or obtaining essential building blocks for future assembly. The second set of reactions is combining the disassembled small molecules to assemble larger ones (anabolism) that are species-specific. These disassembling and assembling activities include numerous complex steps that biochemists and molecular biologists spend their careers gradually unraveling. However, it is not necessary to know the steps to understand the process.
In most life-giving health-promoting processes, grasping the big picture is most important; it is the forest approach, not the individual trees. The tree approach is what the biochemist scientists use when they study individual chemicals and their actions. The forest approach is much simpler; it allows non-scientists to understand precisely the important developments going on in our bodies.
Much molecular disassembling takes place in the intestinal tract and assembling in the liver; these are the factories, the General Motors of our bodies. Each cell also has lesser abilities, such as auto repair facilities. However, when nutrients are unavailable as in starvation, the bodies’ own tissues are in danger of becoming disassembled.
All of this requires energy and since we are not wired for electricity, our cells must generate the energy within. Our cells are outfitted with tiny furnaces that have controlled chemical “fires”. Campfire’s activities are termed combustion and our body’s “fires” are termed respiration. Just as campfires, generate sparks, our respiration generates “sparks” called free radicals.
Understanding how our metabolism keeps us alive is important to understanding how we age and how to reduce the problems of aging. Machinery wears-out and our bodies do as well but in a very different manner.