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Metabolic Health + Inflammation

Explore Metabolic Health Conditions

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is processes by which your body breaks down and converts food into energy. It includes:

  1. the break down of food,

  2. the conversion of food into energy stores found in your fat tissues, liver and muscle, and

  3. the conversion of stored energy into energy that can be used to help in your daily activities.

What is Metabolic Health?

Metabolic health is when the body is able to balance blood sugars, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. Metabolic dysfunction occurs when the body is no longer able to keep the metabolic systems in balance. This leads to increased inflammation in the body and conditions such as type II diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancer, and fatty liver disease.

Many aspects of modern living lead to increased inflammation in the body and dysregulation of metabolism such as:

  • standard western processed food diet especially foods made from refined carbs, added processed oils and processed red meats which is classified as a grade I carcinogen. 

  • smoking

  • alcohol

  • unmanaged stress

  • poor sleep including shift work

The 5 Markers of Metabolic Health

The basic 5 markers which we utilise in integrative medicine to optimise metabolic health are as follows:

Blood Sugar - fasting level and HBA1C

The body loves blood sugars to stay within a narrow range so as soon as you eat something sweet, your pancreas produces insulin to prompt your muscles and liver to mop up the sugar and take it into their cells to be used or stored as energy. 

A complex combination of factors cause a person to develop diabetes including genes, trauma, diet, exercise, stress, gut bacteria, and hormones. Some are modifiable, others are not. 

Waist circumference

This is a marker of body fat accumulation around and within essential organs such as the heart, brain, liver and arteries. 

Blood Pressure

Age, stress, diet, genes and other factors contribute to increasing blood pressure. With increasing blood pressure there is increasing micro-trauma to the inner lining of the blood vessels, that can bleed and clot. 


Cholesterol is an essential waxy substance that is used to make vitamins, transport things around the body and makes part of your cell membranes. 

Low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) transports excess cholesterol to the heart and other blood vessels and is deposited in the artery wall.

Having higher amounts of  LDL in the body, especially small dense LDL increases the risk of having angina, a heart attack, a stroke or peripheral vascular disease.

High density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) removes excess cholesterol to the heart and other blood vessels and takes it to the liver for process and use.


Triglycerides are a type of fat molecule. High triglycerides are another marker of heart disease and artery wall damage as fat can be deposited in these places. lipoproteins also transport triglycerides round the body.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is an essential part of your body’s healing process. It occurs when immune cells travel to the place of an injury or infection. The immune cells trigger an inflammatory response to heal and repair the body.


When immune cells trigger an inflammatory response for a prolonged period of time it can lead to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation, instead of healing and repairing the body, contributes to damage to cells and organs. 

For example when triglycerides and LDL are deposited in the wall lining of arteries in the heart, this triggers and immune response. The immune cells try to eradicate the triglycerides and cholesterol deposits by eating them and they turn into foam cells. This triggers the production of cytokines and more immune cells and inflammation occurs. 

Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation can persist due to many factors of which some are avoidable or modifiable. For example:

  • Exposure to low level irritant that cannot be eliminated by the body such as industrial chemicals, radiation, cigarette smoke or air or water pollutants. 

  • Exposure to inflammatory inducers that cause oxidative stress to cells and mitochondrial dysfunction (reduced energy production of cells).

Inflammatory inducers include chemicals, pollutants, alcohol metabolites (acetaldehyde), inflammatory foods and endocrine disruptors such as phthalates and BPA.


Advanced Glycation Products

They also include advanced glycation products (AGEs) which are proteins or fats that become glycated (have sugar attached) after exposure to sugars. These cause damage to blood vessels. AGEs are low in plant foods, and higher in processed foods and animal foods especially foods that are fried, dried, roast or barbequed.

Oxidised Lipoproteins

Oxidised lipoproteins contribute to chronic inflammation. They are caused by consuming foods high in saturated and trans-fats. Smoking also causes oxidised lipoprotein. Oxidized LDL can build up in the artery walls, creating plaques which can ultimately rupture. 

Uric Acid

Uric acid promotes chronic inflammation. Foods high in purines result in increased metabolism of purines to uric acid in the body. Eating a diet rich in red meat and shellfish and drinking beverages sweetened with fructose or high fructose corn syrup and beer all increase levels of uric acid. High uric acid can accumulate in the joints and cause gout. Uric acid promotes chronic inflammation in the body and is associated with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and the development of heart disease.  

Lifestyle Medicine utilises food, exercise, sleep, stress management and more to reduce inflammation in the body which works to prevent and reverse chronic inflammation. ​​


How can I improve my metabolic health?

To improve metabolic health and reduce inflammation, aim for a healthy lifestyle  habits that includes regular exercise and a balanced, whole-foods diet. A low-glycemic diet can help keep blood sugar levels in check, which can reduce inflammation. Be sure to get enough sleep each night and manage stress levels to support good overall health. 

6 Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine

Lifestyle medicine applies evidence-based, whole-person, prescriptive lifestyle change to treat medical conditions. When used intensively it often reverses chronic metabolic and inflammatory medical conditions.


We use the 6 pillars of lifestyle medicine as the core basis to prevent, manage and reverse chronic metabolic disease, as these habits support the body to maintain balance in all it's interconnected systems. 

1. Eat Real Food

2. Move your body

3. Restorative sleep

4. Recognise and manage dis-stress

5. Nurture positive social connections

6. Minimise exposure to harmful substances 

Find out more about the 6 pillars of lifestyle medicine. 

Specific Approaches for Metabolic Conditions

We are passionate about making a difference for people who have chronic inflammatory metabolic conditions.


Below are some of the approaches we use to can work with you to reduce inflammation, and help your body get back on track doing what it loves to do best including keeping blood sugars in balance and inflammation in check.

Type 2 Diabetes | Mate huka

Type 2 diabetes is a common metabolic disease that can be influenced powerfully by health habits that can:

  • increase the capacity of your muscles and liver recognise high blood sugar levels, and quickly mop it up out of your bloodtream,

  • rest and repair your pancreas so it can repair,

  • lower you body's need for insulin so your body becomes more responsive when you do consume foods containing carbohydrates.

Food As Medicine
Diabetes is less common among people who consume higher fibre and more plants in their diet, and more common in those who eat a diet higher in refined carbohydrates and fats.

Dietary strategies for reducing the risk of diabetes, managing diabetes and, when using intensive approaches, reversal of type 2 diabetes includes:

  • a whole-food plant-based diet

  • reducing processed sugars in the diet including artificial sweeteners. Replace these foods with fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

  • reducing processed grains in the diet including white flour, white rice, puffed and flaked cereals and baked goods. Replace these foods with whole grains, such as rolled or steel cut oats, buckwheat, quinoa. 

  • increasing dietary fibre fills you up more and is of lower glycaemic index compared to processed and baked foods. 

  • get your protein and fats from plant based sources - legumes, lentils, seeds, nuts, olives and olive oil. 


Exercise is an important component to prevention and reversing diabetes. Muscles take up blood sugar out of the circulation, thereby reducing blood sugar levels and reducing damage caused to the body by the high blood sugar levels.


Both aerobic exercise and resistance training help reduce blood sugar by requiring the muscle to work harder, it has a higher need and ability to push blood sugar into the muscle cell.

Intermittent Fasting

Humans evolved to intermittently fast, we all do it overnight anyway. During sleep we give out body a break from eating, digesting and having to deal with incoming sugar into the body. This allows for important other body processes to occur, such as repair and breakdown of damaged cells. With longer fasts such as fasting beyond 12 hours the body switches to utilising fat as an energy source rather than sugar. 

There are a number of ways to do intermittent fasting including confining eating to a 8 or 10 hour window during the day, thereby extending the time the body is not receiving food. Other methods include the 5:2 where you eat normal meals for 5 days per week and 2 days fasting. 

Different options work for different people's schedules. We work with you to decide what type of intermittent fasting would work for you. it is important to work with a health professional to to find the best strategy for you and to ensure you are getting adequate nutrition, especially if you are also in training. 

What about keto diets and very low calorie diets?

Both these diets have been shown to reverse diabetes. However we do not recommend a very low calorie diet as it is hard to sustain long term and achieves diabetes reversal through weight loss. Once a person resumes eating at the same caloric level as they previously did, unless they change their dietary pattern they will likely experience rebound weight gain and recurrence of diabetes in the longer term. 

In terms of the ketogenic diet, it also is effective at producing weight loss and reversing diabetes in the short term. However, cutting many healthy fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains and nuts from the diet because they contain carbohydrates means you are cutting out vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients that are packaged in those foods- nutrients that are anti-inflammatory and protective to the body.


Also the keto diet alters the gut microbiome. Due to the high fat content of the diet, it favours bile-loving bacteria. The low fibre content reduces the diversity of gut bacteria as well as health promoting species such as lactobacillus. A diverse gut microbiome is associated with lower chronic diseases and improved health status.

Heart Disease | mate manawa

Heart disease is the most common cause of death among women in Western countries. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause increase women's risk factors for heart disease such as

  • increase blood pressure

  • increase blood sugars - resulting in prediabetes or diabetes

  • high cholesterol

  • changes in body composition with reduced bone mass, reduced muscle mass and increased body fat especially around the stomach.

Reducing Heart disease risk

Using the 6 pillars of lifestyle medicine along side body identical HRT for women who so choose can be effective at reducing the risk of heart disease.


Managing + Reversing Heart Disease with Lifestyle Medicine

For those with existing heart disease, the 6 pillars of lifestyle medicine can also reduce the plaque diameter, and increase exercise and physical fitness levels. 


Whole Food Diets for Heart Disease

Whole Food diets that have been shown to improve metabolic measures in people with heart disease include a Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet and a whole-food, plant-based diet (WFPB).


Whole-food plant-based diets have been used in interventions, in combination with exercise, to reduce plaque diameter and increase exercise capacity.

Dietary patterns high in processed oils, added oils, and refined carbohydrates such as flour, sugars and cereals promote inflammation in the body, higher blood sugars and higher cholesterol. These conditions promote the development of heart disease - the build up of plaque inside the heart blood vessels which can result in a heart attack. It promotes the same process in the brain which can result in strokes - a clot or bleed in the brain. 


Regular progressive exercise such as cycling has been shown to reverse cholesterol deposition in arteries.

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High Blood Pressure|mate pēhanga toto

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is when the pressure of your blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently high. When the pressure is persistent over the long term it can place strain on the heart and cause damage to the vessel walls (think water from a high pressure hose vs normal pressure hose).


This damage to blood vessels reduces organ function such as the kidneys, causing kidney disease, the brain causing stroke, or the heart, causing heart attacks or heart failure. 

Blood pressure is affected by many life contributors and for many people changes in lifestyle health habits can be effective for lowering blood pressure. 

Food for reducing blood pressure

One of the most studied dietary patterns for reducing high blood pressure is the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). 

It is a diet that focusses on whole foods including a diverse amount of:

  • fruit

  • vegetables

  • whole grains

  • beans

  • nuts and seeds

  • poultry and fish

  • low-fat dairy

It avoids:

  • fatty meats

  • full fat dairy

  • sugar sweetened drinks

  • sweets, lollies, candy, cake, dessert

  • salt intake.​

Increasing the whole foods in your diet can have fast improvements on your blood pressure, with a reduction being seen by only 2 weeks. 

Another consistant finding from large meta-analysis (review of many studies demonstrates that plant-based diets either vegan or vegetarian reduce blood pressure. This is because these diets are high in fruits and vegetables containing pottasium, calcium, magnesium, polyphenols, and other compounds that can improve blood pressure. 

Exercise and blood pressure

Exercise is an important strategy for helping the blood vessels remain flexible rather than stiff which helps keep the blood pressure lower. Studies have consistently demonstrated beneficial effects of exercise on blood pressure, both the prevention of and the treatment of high blood pressure. 

Discovering which type of exercise would work for you, and how to integrate that into your life are important for maintaining normal blood pressure. 

Getting restorative sleep, managing stressors and having a supportive social life also contribute to lowering blood pressure. 

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