Metabolism consists of a system of chemical reactions taking place in the cells of our bodies.
Metabolism is converting fuels in our food that we’re eating into the energy that we need for powering all the things we do, from thinking to moving to growing.
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This lesson is a part of our GED Science Study Guide
There are specific proteins in our bodies that control all chemical reactions when Metabolism occurs, and all chemical reactions are in accordance with any other body function.
Several thousands of interesting metabolic reactions are happening simultaneously, and all are regulated by our bodies, maintaining our body cells working and healthy.
The process of Metabolism is constant, and it started already when we were conceived, and it stops when we will die. The process of Metabolism is absolutely vital for all forms of life, and not just within humans. When Metabolism ends, living things will die.
Let’s look at this example that shows how Metabolism works within humans. It begins all with plants:
Initially, greens plants take in sunlight energy. The plants use this given energy and chlorophyll, the molecule that gives all plants a green color and builds sugars from carbon dioxide and water.
This the process of photosynthesis, and most probably, you’ve already learned about this in earlier biology classes.
When animals and people are eating those plants (or when carnivores are eating animals that earlier already did eat those plants), they are taking in the energy (as sugar), alongside other essential chemicals that enable cell-building.
Consequently, our bodies break those sugars down and enable the released energy to be transported and distributed to our bodies’ cells that use it as fuel.
After we’ve eaten the food, molecules in our digestive system (named enzymes) are breaking down the proteins into amino acids, the fats into so-called fatty acids, while the carbohydrates are broken down into, for example, glucose, a simple sugar. Amino acids, fatty acids, and sugar can be used as energy sources for our bodies when needed.
Then, these compounds (named ATP, or adenosine triphosphate) will be absorbed into our blood, which will carry them to our bodies’ cells. In our cells, more enzymes will regulate or speed up chemical reactions that are involved with the process of “metabolizing” those compounds.
Energy from those compounds may be released and used by our bodies or may be stored in our body tissue, especially in body fat, liver, or muscles.
There are many hormones of our body’s endocrine system involved with controlling the direction and the rate of Metabolism.
When released, the hormone Thyroxine, for example (produced by our thyroid gland), is playing a crucial role in determining at what speed or slowth the chemical reactions in the process of Metabolism within your body take place.
The pancreas gives hormones to help determine if our body’s metabolic activity will be catabolic or anabolic at a given time.
Usually, our Metabolism is working well without us giving it much thought. But there are times when somebody’s Metabolism could be causing some major mayhem like metabolic disorders.
Metabolic disorders are diseases that are caused by abnormal chemical reactions within our body’s cells. More lessons about Life Science are available at Onsego GED Prep.