Metabolic syndrome is a condition in which multiple symptoms are combined to create a significantly increased risk of serious and often fatal diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It is reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that, in the United States, at least 34 percent of adults have metabolic syndrome. Though devastating, metabolic syndrome can be reversed through lifestyle change to decrease risk of serious and chronic illness.
The most common symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome are an apple shaped body, with excess weight in the belly and upper body parts and insulin resistance, a condition in which the body does not use insulin efficiently. Factors such as aging, having an overweight or obese Body Mass Index, hormonal changes, and a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk or the likelihood of metabolic syndrome. A high triglyceride count is another symptom, as is a high blood glucose level and a high-density lipoprotein level.
Blood sugar levels will read high for someone with metabolic syndrome, a significant problem that could cause severe complications. Because the body is not using insulin efficiently, the blood glucose is not being absorbed into the cells and utilized by the muscles to lower blood sugar levels. Metabolic syndrome also slows the production of insulin, causing blood sugar levels rise. High blood sugar on a regular basis can result in the development of Type 2 diabetes, kidney failure, nerve damage, and other conditions.
Overweight, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle are the main causes of metabolic syndrome. While physicians may prescribe medications to manage symptoms of the disease, metabolic syndrome can usually be reversed through relatively simple lifestyle changes. Increased physical activity can increase the body’s production of insulin and decreases the risk of developing diabetes. And, with regular exercise comes weight loss. A minor weight loss of five to 10 pounds can significantly aid the body’s recognition of insulin and help the body to use it efficiently.
If the symptoms of metabolic syndrome are present, tests can be conducted to determine a true diagnosis of the disease. Your doctor can test blood pressure, administer a blood glucose test, check HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol levels and will oftentimes consider triglyceride levels. Once diagnosed, your doctor can work with you to create a treatment plan that may include medication to get the syndrome under control.
Dietary changes are also significant in the prevention or reversal of metabolic syndrome to prevent heart disease and diabetes. Controlling carbohydrate intake is the first dietary change recommended by the Cleveland Clinic. Aim to create a diet in which carbohydrates only take up 50 percent or less of all meals. And, when carbohydrates are on the menu, choose complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole grain bread and vegetable pasta instead of white, refined pastas and breads. An increase of whole fiber from fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans), lentils, and grains is also recommended. Eat more fiber and only use healthy fats for cooking, such as olive and sunflower seed oils, flaxseed oils, and nuts.
Metabolic syndrome affects blood glucose levels. Unhealthy blood glucose levels can lead to serious health complications. With input from your physician, and commitment on your part, though, the risks associated with metabolic disorders can be mitigated.