Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman


  • Wen B. Leong
  • Shahrad Taheri
  • Anna M. Stone
  • G. Neil Thomas
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_472-2



The word metabolism is derived from Greek and means “change.” It involves all chemical reactions or changes in a living organism. In simple terms, “metabolism is the chemistry of life” (Bing 1971). Due to the importance of metabolic processes to life, the processes have been highly conserved throughout evolution.


Metabolism consists of multiple processes resulting in the breakdown and formation of molecules that sustain life. Metabolic processes are complex and can be influenced by internal and external factors. These processes are highly regulated and aim to maintain physiological balance or homeostasis in the face of a constantly changing environment. There are two types of metabolic reactions: anabolic and catabolic. These processes work hand in hand, although one may predominate depending on physiological or pathological state. Anabolic reactions predominate at times of high substrate availability and involve transformations of...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Berg, J. M., Tymoczko, J. L., & Stryer, L. (2012). Biochemistry. Basingstoke: WH Freeman and Company.Google Scholar
  2. Bing, F. C. (1971). The history of the word “metabolism”. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 26(2), 158–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brody, T. (1999). Nutritional biochemistry (electronic resource). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  4. Brownie, A. C., & Kernohan, J. C. (2005). Medical biochemistry: A core text with self-assessment. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.Google Scholar
  5. Dominiczak, M. H. (2007). Flesh and bones of metabolism. Edinburgh: Elsevier Mosby.Google Scholar
  6. King, M. (2011). The medical biochemistry page. Retrieved 3 Mar 2011, from http://www.themedicalbiochemistrypage.org/.
  7. Krebs, H. A. S., & Roberts, M. B. V. (1973). The citric acid cycle. A further analysis of metabolism and its implications slide. London: Audio-Learning.Google Scholar
  8. Molina, P. E. (2004). Endocrine physiology. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wen B. Leong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shahrad Taheri
    • 3
  • Anna M. Stone
    • 4
  • G. Neil Thomas
    • 2
  1. 1.Diabetes CentreUniversity Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation TrustBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Institute for Applied Health ResearchThe University of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  3. 3.Research DivisionWeill Cornell MedicineDohaQatar
  4. 4.Thornley Street SurgeryWolverhamptonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anna C. Phillips
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK