In raw terms one can say that metabolism is the combustion of fuel by the human body to generate energy for body functions. Metabolism is not only necessary in running the body systems such as to grow, reproduce and respond to their environments but also in maintaining their structures such as keeping the body shape and size in control. Most of the structures that make up animals, plants and microbes are made from three basic classes of molecule: amino acids, carbohydrates and lipids (often called fats). As these molecules are vital for life, metabolic reactions either focus on making these molecules during the construction of cells and tissues, or breaking them down and using them as a source of energy, in the digestion and use of food.
The word metabolism has been derived from Greek: μεταβολή ”metabolē”, “change” or Greek: μεταβολισμός metabolismos, “outthrow” and is the set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms.It is the processing of a specific substance within the living body, for example water metabolism or iodine metabolism, with the help of the chemical processes occurring within a living cell or organism that are necessary for the maintenance of life. In metabolism some substances are broken down to yield energy for vital processes while other substances, necessary for life, are synthesized.
The speed of metabolism, the metabolic rate, influences how much food an organism will require, and also affects how it is able to obtain that food.
2. Low Metabolism:
Low metabolism rate is slow processing of the raw substances in the body into energy hence resulting in increased accumulation of these substances in the body in the form of fat, glycogen and protein.
3. High Metabolism:
High metabolism rate is accelerated processing of raw substances into energy in the body resulting in fast consumption of body fuel reserves such as fats, glycogen and amino acids.
Catabolism is the break down of organic matter, for example to harvest energy in cellular respiration. It is the set of metabolic processes that break down large molecules. These include breaking down and oxidizing food molecules. The purpose of the catabolic reactions is to provide the energy and components needed by anabolic reactions.
Anabolism is the process of using energy to construct components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids. It is the set of constructive metabolic processes where the energy released by catabolism is used to synthesize complex molecules. In general, the complex molecules that make up cellular structures are constructed step-by-step from small and simple precursors.
6. Protein And Amino Acid Metabolism:
Proteins are made of amino acids arranged in a linear chain and joined together by peptide bonds. Most bacteria and plants can synthesize all twenty, but mammals can only synthesize eleven nonessential amino acids, so nine essential amino acids must be obtained from food. Amino acids are made into proteins by being joined together in a chain by peptide bonds. On the contrary these peptide bonds are broken down to convert proteins into amino acids when energy is required to be derived from amino acids for example when someone is starved.
7. Fat Metabolism:
Lipids are the most diverse group of biochemicals. Their main structural uses are as part of biological membranes such as the cell membrane, or as a source of energy. Fatty acids are made by fatty acid synthases that polymerize to form bigger fat molecules and parts of body structures. These fat molecules are broken down to fatty acids when required for energy production.
8. Carbohydrate Metabolism:
Carbohydrates are aldehydes or ketones with many hydroxyl groups that can exist as straight chains or rings. Carbohydrates are the most abundant biological molecules, and fill numerous roles, such as the storage and transport of energy (starch, glycogen) and structural components (cellulose in plants, chitin in animals). The basic carbohydrate units are called monosaccharides and include galactose, fructose, and most importantly glucose. Monosaccharides can be linked together to form polysaccharides in almost limitless ways.
9. Mineral Metabolism:
Inorganic elements play critical roles in metabolism; some are abundant (e.g. sodium and potassium) while others function at minute concentrations. About 99% of a mammal’s mass is made up of the elements carbon, nitrogen, calcium, sodium, chlorine, potassium, hydrogen, phosphorus, oxygen and sulfur. The abundant inorganic elements act as ionic electrolytes, which are critical for maintenance of osmotic pressure and pH. They are also essential for nerve and muscle function.
10. Thermodynamics Of Life:
Living organisms have to obey the laws of thermodynamics, which describe the transfer of heat and work. The the second law of thermodynamics states that in any closed system, the amount of entropy (disorder) will tend to increase. Although living organisms’ amazing complexity appears to contradict this law, life is possible as all organisms are open systems that exchange matter and energy with their surroundings. Thus living systems are not in equilibrium, but instead are dissipative systems that maintain their state of high complexity by causing a larger increase in the entropy of their environments. The metabolism of a cell achieves this by coupling the spontaneous processes of catabolism to the non-spontaneous processes of anabolism. In thermodynamics terms, metabolism maintains order by creating disorder.
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