What is your metabolism and why is it important?

Metabolism is your body's process of converting what you eat and drink into energy. Put simply, your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body needs to carry out its daily functions – walking and talking, for instance, as well as necessary and hidden functions, such as breathing, blood circulation, and growing and repairing cells.

Some out there believe that you can heavily influence your metabolism. But your metabolism is primarily influenced by the things you can't control, such as age, gender, body composition (how much muscle you have) and family history.

Metabolism can be upset by abnormal thyroid functioning. The essential truth of your metabolism can't be changed, but there are things you can do in the way of diet and exercise to help enhance what you've been given.

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of conditions that put your health at risk, including extra weight in your middle section; insulin resistance; high blood pressure; and elevated levels of triglycerides in conjunction with lower levels of LDL, or good, cholesterol.

Metabolic syndrome, which is gaining traction in the U.S., is linked to obesity, and can put you at greater risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. If you fit the criteria for metabolic syndrome, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes – including eating healthier and consuming fewer calories, as well as boosting your physical activity – to help get you back on track.