For some reason, I had a hard time understanding what metabolic syndrome was when I first heard about it. Was it a disease, a condition? It seemed to be important, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. This is the reason I decided to create a series of articles in case you are a bit baffled by exactly what it is and what it means for your health, both today and tomorrow.
Metabolic syndrome very simply is a cluster of conditions that occur together that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The conditions include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Aside from an expanding waist circumference, most of the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome have no symptoms.
There are several names for metabolic syndrome, and you may have heard some of them before. Some people call it “resistance syndrome” or “syndrome X”. These terms simply define the characteristics of metabolic syndrome. For example, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides in the blood are all characteristics of metabolic syndrome.
What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?
The main causes of metabolic syndrome are being overweight and being sedentary. Often being overweight is associated with a poor diet consisting of processed foods that are high sugar, trans fats, and other unhealthy ingredients. Add to that living a sedentary lifestyle, and you have a recipe for metabolic syndrome. For some people there is a third cause, which is insulin resistance. It simply means your body no longer processes the sugars in your food properly.
What Are the Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome?
Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include large waist circumference, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels. The combination of disorders is considered a syndrome because they all essentially affect the same digestive and circulatory system. Because of this, everyone will have a variety of symptoms depending upon how long they’ve been living with the condition. Be aware that you may not be aware of any symptoms yet and still be at risk.
Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome
If you smoke, are overweight and sedentary, you are at high risk of developing metabolic syndrome and the conditions associated with it like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Also, you become more likely to experience metabolic syndrome as you get older. The best way to reduce your risk factors is very simply to change your lifestyle. And please understand your eating lifestyle is most like one you learned from your family and that is compounded by the sedentary lifestyle many of us live today. It’s a combo plate of the wrong food with too much salt sugar, bad fat and processed food. It’s just too much undesirable “food” for your body to process.
What are Treatments for Metabolic Syndrome?
Treatment of metabolic syndrome most frequently involves medication and/or lifestyle changes. A discussion with your doctor as to whether you want use medications or simply put in place diet and lifestyle changes will be in order. You will need to put in place lifestyle changes regardless of whether you decide to use medication or not.
The key to improving your health is to eat a healthier diet and to move more. It’s not as difficult as it may seem to improve your eating style. Eating right consists of eating enough nutrient-rich foods that are low in sugar and trans fats and avoiding processed food. Exercising means you need to move at moderate intensity at least 150 minutes a week.
If you are concerned about your own prognosis, make an appointment with your health care professional to get a full physical. Talk about your concerns and symptoms. He or she can help you find support groups and identify lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference in your recovery efforts and your future health.