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Understanding Metabolism

Understanding Metabolism

Metabolism refers to the process of your cells converting the foods you eat into energy. Your thyroid gland produces two key hormones (T3 and T4) that control metabolism. Many physiological processes work together to break down food into usable nutrients for your body to absorb so that it can function optimally.

Issues in any step of the metabolic process can cause major health problems. Metabolic disorders occur when there is a failure in a step of the metabolic process, which can result in a buildup or deficiency of certain substances.

Internal medicine and endocrinology specialist Sam Morayati, MD, diagnoses and treats a wide variety of diseases and disorders that affect adults, including metabolic disorders. If you’ve been diagnosed with a metabolic disorder, it helps to understand more about how your metabolism works. The more you know about what’s going on in your body, the better you can work with Dr. Morayati to manage your metabolic disorder.

How your metabolism works

There are two main parts of your metabolism: catabolism and anabolism. Anabolism is the process of growing new cells, storing energy, and maintaining your tissues. Catabolism is the process of breaking down nutrients from food and releasing the energy that fuels your cells. This is the process most often affected in metabolic disorders.

When you eat food, organs and tissues work together to release hormones and enzymes to turn the food into molecules of energy. Missing enzymes or hormones can cause problems in the metabolic process.

Common metabolic disorders

You’re born with inherited metabolic disorders, but you can also acquire a metabolic disorder over time. The following are some of the most common metabolic disorders:


Perhaps one of the most well-known metabolic disorders, diabetes occurs when blood sugar remains elevated. This can happen when the cells fail to respond to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin, or when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin.


When hemochromatosis, a gene that controls iron absorption, doesn’t work properly, it allows too much iron to be absorbed. Iron builds up to toxic levels in organs and tissues and if left untreated can cause serious health problems.


Phenylketonuria occurs when an enzyme deficiency causes high levels of the amino acid phenylalanine. The signs and symptoms range from mild to severe. Newborn blood testing detects nearly all cases of phenylketonuria. Untreated phenylketonuria can have devastating consequences, including brain damage, seizures, and intellectual disability. 

Managing metabolic disorders

Effectively managing your metabolic disorder is necessary to keep you healthy. The specific treatment varies greatly depending on what enzymes, or hormones are affected, and the exact nature of your metabolic disorder. 

In the case of diabetes, you may need to control the amount of carbohydrates you eat, and/or take insulin, or a blood sugar-lowering medication. Whereas in the case of phenylketonuria, you must adhere to a long-term, low phenylalanine diet. 

Dr. Morayati provides expert guidance to effectively manage your condition so that you stay well. If you’re diagnosed with or suspect that you have a metabolic disorder, Dr. Morayati performs a comprehensive evaluation. Once you receive an official diagnosis, treatment can begin. 

To get started, reach out to our office to schedule a visit with Dr. Morayati, MD, or book your appointment online today. 

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