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Medicine LibreTexts

24: Metabolism and Nutrition

This chapter will take you through some of the chemical reactions essential to life, the sum of which is referred to as metabolism. The focus of these discussions will be anabolic reactions and catabolic reactions. You will examine the various chemical reactions that are important to sustain life, including why you must have oxygen, how mitochondria transfer energy, and the importance of certain “metabolic” hormones and vitamins.

  • 24.0: Prelude to Metabolism and Nutrition
    Eating is essential to life. Many of us look to eating as not only a necessity, but also a pleasure. You may have been told since childhood to start the day with a good breakfast to give you the energy to get through most of the day. You most likely have heard about the importance of a balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables. But what does this all mean to your body and the physiological processes it carries out each day?
  • 24.1: Overview of Metabolic Reactions
    Metabolic processes are constantly taking place in the body. Metabolism is the sum of all of the chemical reactions that are involved in catabolism and anabolism. The reactions governing the breakdown of food to obtain energy are called catabolic reactions. Conversely, anabolic reactions use the energy produced by catabolic reactions to synthesize larger molecules from smaller ones, such as when the body forms proteins by stringing together amino acids. Both sets of reactions are critical.
  • 24.2: Carbohydrate Metabolism
    Carbohydrates are organic molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. The family of carbohydrates includes both simple and complex sugars. Glucose and fructose are examples of simple sugars, and starch, glycogen, and cellulose are all examples of complex sugars. The complex sugars are also called polysaccharides and are made of multiple monosaccharide molecules. Polysaccharides serve as energy storage and as structural components.
  • 24.3: Lipid Metabolism
    Fats (or triglycerides) within the body are ingested as food or synthesized by adipocytes or hepatocytes from carbohydrate precursors (Figure 24.3.1). Lipid metabolism entails the oxidation of fatty acids to either generate energy or synthesize new lipids from smaller constituent molecules. Lipid metabolism is associated with carbohydrate metabolism, as products of glucose (such as acetyl CoA) can be converted into lipids.
  • 24.4: Protein Metabolism
    Much of the body is made of protein, and these proteins take on a myriad of forms. They represent cell signaling receptors, signaling molecules, structural members, enzymes, intracellular trafficking components, extracellular matrix scaffolds, ion pumps, ion channels, oxygen and CO2 transporters (hemoglobin). That is not even the complete list!
  • 24.5: Metabolic States of the Body
    You eat periodically throughout the day; however, your organs, especially the brain, need a continuous supply of glucose. How does the body meet this constant demand for energy? Your body processes the food you eat both to use immediately and, importantly, to store as energy for later demands. If there were no method in place to store excess energy, you would need to eat constantly in order to meet energy demands.
  • 24.6: Energy and Heat Balance
    The body tightly regulates the body temperature through a process called thermoregulation, in which the body can maintain its temperature within certain boundaries, even when the surrounding temperature is very different. The core temperature of the body remains steady at around 36.5–37.5 °C. In the process of ATP production by cells throughout the body, approximately 60 % of the energy produced is in the form of heat used to maintain body temperature.
  • 24.7: Nutrition and Diet
    The carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins in the foods you eat are used for energy to power molecular, cellular, and organ system activities. Importantly, the energy is stored primarily as fats. The quantity and quality of food that is ingested, digested, and absorbed affects the amount of fat that is stored as excess calories. Diet—both what you eat and how much you eat—has a dramatic impact on your health.