Metabolic syndrome is named for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome has been associated with Insulin resistance syndrome (Syndrome X) and has become more and more common in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 4 people are affected by Metabolic Syndrome. While there is no know single cause, all of the syndrome’s risk factors are related to obesity (altered body composition).
Metabolic syndrome is associated with many conditions and risk factors, but there are two key factors that should not be taken lightly. Number one is central obesity, which can be measured by an increased waist to hip ratio. This can sometimes be recognized as an “apple shaped” appearance. Number two is insulin resistance (Syndrome X). This is a syndrome that is found in individuals whom cannot effectively utilize insulin. Insulin is needed to help control the amount of sugar in the body.
Insulin facilitates the transport of blood sugar (glucose) into our cells and is needed for energy production. If you have insulin resistance, your body doesn’t respond to insulin, and therefore, blood sugar cannot effectively be transported into the cells. As a result, the body produces more and more insulin. Insulin and blood sugar levels rise, affecting kidney function and raising the level of blood fats, such as triglycerides (and later cholesterol).
Metabolic Syndrome is a medical diagnosis that is hallmarked by 3 of 5 of the following signs/symptoms;
1) Blood pressure equal to or higher than 130/85 mmHg
2) Fasting blood sugar (glucose) equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL
3) Increased hip/waist ratio:
- Men – 40 inches or more
- Women – 35 inches or more
4) Low HDL cholesterol:
- Men – under 40 mg/dL
- Women – under 50 mg/dL
5) Triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL
If you suspect that you have any three of the above five risk factors, contact your doctor to get a lipid panel and blood glucose test. If your doctor does not recognize that these risk factors can lead to more serious diseases such as Type II diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease…FIND ANOTHER DOCTOR. This is a serious matter and can be treated preventing future complications.
A good doctor will recommend a Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) program and/or medication (either allopathic or naturopathic) to address the problem. The goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and blood sugar.
My recommendations always include a healthy weight loss program that involves caloric restriction, moderate daily exercise (at least 30 min. per day), eating a diet rich in fiber and plant sterols (lowers cholesterol), 1-2 grams of quality fish oil, cholesterol lowering medication (if needed for short term), ample sleep, and stress reduction techniques. If you are smoker…STOP! It will kill you. Fact! It is only a matter of time.
Metabolic Syndrome is one of the least diagnosed diseases by physicians and one of the most prominent. Recognize the patterns and prevent the escalation of symptoms. You will live longer, healthier and happier.