What is happening in the body?

The anatomy of metabolic health

Need to know

  • All parts of the body are involved with metabolic health.
  • Some parts of the body play a key role, including the gut, liver, blood, pancreas, muscles, and fat tissues.


The body has many organs that work together to maintain health.

Whilst metabolic health involves all parts of the body there are some body parts that are more important.


The gut is also known as the alimentary system. It starts at the mouth, moves on to the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and then finishes at the anus. The gut's key role is to take in food and process it, supplying energy and nutrients to our body. When we eat, food is broken down in the gut. This is called digestion. Food that has been digested is then absorbed from the gut into the blood.


The liver sits at the top right of the abdomen. It is the body's main chemical processing unit. The liver's duties include getting rid of harmful substances and converting the food we eat into substances the body needs.

The liver can make and store sugar, then release that sugar into the blood when the body needs it.

The liver also turns excess sugar into fat.

Blood system

An adult has about five litres (eight pints) of blood. This blood is held in a network of blood vessels called arteries, veins, and capillaries.

The blood system performs many tasks, including delivery of fuel - sugar and fat - to all the cells in the body.


The pancreas is an organ that sits in the abdomen near to the stomach and liver.

The pancreas plays an important role of helping the body to digest, store, release, and use food. As part of this process the pancreas releases hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers.

Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas. Insulin helps the body to take sugar out of the blood. Insulin also helps the body to store fat.


There are muscles throughout the body. This includes skeletal muscles which are attached to our bones so we can move.

Skeletal muscles play an important role in removing excess sugar from the blood. Big healthy muscles, that are used frequently, can store and use a lot of sugar.

Healthy muscles also release helpful chemicals into the blood that reduce inflammation in the body.

Fat tissue

Fat tissue, also known as adipose tissue, is the place in our body where fat is stored. There are two main types of fat tissue - subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.

Subcutaneous fat is the body's healthy fat store. It is the fat that sits under the skin. The fat that can be seen on people. Metabolic health is aided by subcutaneous fat stores that are not overstuffed. This means there is space for the stores to take in more fat if needed, and then release it again when the body needs energy.

Visceral fat is inside the abdomen. Large amounts of visceral fat increase the size of the belly and waist. This fat is harmful for the body. Visceral fat releases chemicals into the blood that increase inflammation in the body. This makes it harder for the body to stay in a healthy balance.


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