Metabolic syndrome is a relatively new term and lots of people are talking about it these days. There is controversy surrounding the terminology and exactly what it means, but one thing is for sure – it is dangerous to our health!
If you are not sure what to believe, here are the basic facts about metabolic syndrome and why it matters if you want to be healthy and stay healthy.
Basic Facts About Metabolic Syndrome
1. Understand the controversy.
It’s only in the past 20 years that people started being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Some medical experts debate whether it’s really a distinct condition or rather a cluster of conditions. Most refer to metabolic syndrome as a cluster of conditions that increases the risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and excess abdominal fat. Regardless or how it is classified, there is clear cut evidence that all the factors involved in metabolic syndrome are crucial to your health.
2. Recognize the prevalence.
Metabolic syndrome affects about 70 million adults in the U.S. That’s more than one in three adults and sadly, the numbers are growing.
3. Know the risk factors.
There are many risk factors involved. These include being overweight or physically inactive. Other signs include high blood pressure, high blood sugar and unhealthy cholesterol levels.
4. Spot the symptoms.
Regular doctor checkups are essential because many of the symptoms are hidden. The one thing you can monitor without seeing a doctor, however, is your waistline. Excess belly fat is an obvious indicator of metabolic syndrome.
5. Appreciate the impact.
This cluster of metabolic factors is known to double the risk of heart attack and stroke and it raises the risk of developing diabetes by 5 times.
Preventing and Treating Metabolic Syndrome
1. Talk with your doctor.
Your doctor will perform lab tests to determine if you have metabolic syndrome. That means you have at least 3 symptoms, such as excess abdominal fat, unhealthy cholesterol, high blood pressure, high fasting glucose or insulin resistance.
2. Eat right.
A healthy diet plays a big role in prevention and treatment. Cut down on processed foods, unhealthy fats and sugar. Eat more vegetables and fruits and proteins.
3. Limit your carbohydrate intake.
A diet high in carbohydrates is of particular concern. It is important for everyone to get their carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit and not from processed foods. The amount of carbohydrates required varies from person to person. Most knowledgeable doctors will recommend anywhere from 20 to upwards of 100 net grams.
4. Lose inches.
If you’re overweight, take off the excess pounds on a sensible eating plan that you can stick with for life. Your waistline may be even more important than any scale reading. The best waist size for a man is under 40 inches and under 35 for women.
A physically active lifestyle is your best defense. Train for cardiovascular health, strength and flexibility. Find workouts you can enjoy and stick with.
6. Quit smoking.
Smoking tobacco puts a serious strain on your circulatory system. Quitting is one more way to lower your risk of heart disease.
7. Lifestyle is key
Many people can avoid metabolic syndrome through lifestyle changes alone. Your doctor can advise you if you need medication as well. These drugs may include medicines for high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes. Your doctor may also recommend aspirin to manage your risk for heart attacks or strokes.
8. Be extra vigilant as you age.
The risk of metabolic syndrome increases as we age. Experts estimate a 20% in risk in our 40s. That rises to 45% when we are over 60.
9. Collect your family history.
Like many conditions, metabolic syndrome involves genetic aspects. Find out whether you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes or stroke.
Maybe metabolic syndrome fails to meet the criteria for a distinct condition, but the factors involved are well substantiated as being of major importance to your health. If you have risk factors like high blood pressure or excess fat around your waistline, it’s important to your health to overhaul your lifestyle and talk with your doctor.