The term metabolism refers to all of the chemical reactions by which complex molecules taken into an organism are broken down to produce energy and by which energy is used to build up complex molecules. All metabolic reactions fall into one of two general categories: catabolic and anabolic reactions, or the processes of breaking down and building up, respectively. The best example of metabolism from daily life occurs in the process of taking in and digesting nutrients, but sometimes these processes become altered, either through a person's choice or through outside factors, and metabolic disorders follow. Such disorders range from anorexia and bulimia to obesity. These are all examples of an unhealthy, unnatural alteration to the ordinary course of metabolism; on the other hand, hibernation allows animals to slow down their metabolic rates dramatically as a means of conserving energy during times when food is scarce.

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