The desire to become healthier is more prevalent than it was over 50 years ago.  With the rise of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other ailments, Americans have to wake up and smell the healthy food.  If we want to feel great, if we want to look great and get in shape, we must get involved in some type of physical activity.   Physical activity is good for the heart as well as transforming the body.  We must eat healthier and exercise more regularly.

Once we begin to exercise, we will feel more energetic and have a more positive attitude. Receiving health benefits will become a necessity.  When we feel fit, have a good attitude and energetic, our metabolism has a lot to do with these things.

The metabolism is essentially physical and chemical changes that occur within the body to convert food to energy.  To have an effective metabolism, our blood must have sufficient oxygen, glucose and nutrients.  If we are deficient in any of these three things, certain metabolic functions are hindered and symptoms of disease can arise.  Thus, it is important to pay attention to your metabolism, and the types of food you consume.

However, there are certain factors that will affect how effective your metabolism will be.  Men will burn more calories than women because they have more lean muscle tissue than women, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn.  Also, metabolism will slow 5% per decade after  you turn 30, and if you aren't very active, you will have a slow metabolism.  In addition, some people just inherit slower metabolic rates.  With all of these factors taken into account, don't assume you can't improve your metabolism.  Eating a healthy and well balanced diet, and adding more physical activity, can increase your metabolism and help to burn more calories.

To increase your metabolism and burn more calories, check out the following ways you can improve your metabolic rate:

1. Eat more omega 3 fatty acids. Some great sources are fish and flax oil.

2. Limit the amount of refined carbohydrates you consume, such as rice, pasta, white bread, chips and pasta.

3. Eat foods rich in antioxidants  As the body ages, the antioxidant stores will decrease unless they are replenished through vitamins or diet.  Include more cranberries, blackberries and raspberries, apples, prunes, almonds and artichokes to name a few.

4.  Drink water regulary throughout the day.  Water will help with your metabolic function and dispel waste by adding fluid to your stool.  Some studies have found that after drinking water, your metabolism will increase.

5.  Improve your strength and flexibility.  Lifting weights will increase your muscle mass and in effect burn more calories.  So try some weight bearing exercises, and incorporate them into your workout on a daily basis.

6. Before you decide to lift weights, make sure you have a doctor's approval.  Know your risks before starting an exercise program.

7. Walk as much as possible.  Take stairs at work or on the weekends.  Park your car a short distance from your destination.  Walk to the local markets.  Make walking a regular part of your daily routine.

8. Consume more vitamins such as zinc and chromium.  Zinc regulates blood sugar and carbohydrate levels, and if we don't consume enough, our metabolism may slow down.  Chromium helps the body to metabolize fat and convert blood sugar into energy.

9. Don't stress yourself out.  When we are stressed, our bodies produce cortisol.  It is a hormone that is released after a stressful event, but if we are constantly under stress, cortisol will cause depression, weight gain and a decreased metabolism.

10. Eat carbohydrates in the early part of the day.  You want to give the carbohydrates the time to metabolize or convert into energy.  This way your body will burn the carbohydrate calories and move on to burning the fat, which is what you want.  If you continue to eat carboydrates throughout the day, your body will just burn them all day wthout getting a chance to burn fat.

These are just a few simple things we all can do to increase our metabolisms and our health.  We should examine our lives and see where improvement in health can be made, and just as the Nike commercials say, "Just Do It!"