As obesity is on the rise in the US, it’s more important than ever to practice healthy lifestyle habits. Regular exercise and a well-rounded diet are key to preventing a number of many conditions.
Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are just a few health issues which can be positively impacted by an active and health-conscious routine. Metabolic syndrome is another condition which can be prevented and treated by practicing a healthy lifestyle.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome does not refer to a single condition, but instead a group of risk factors which, especially when combined, increases your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Metabolic syndrome risk factors
- High fasting blood sugar: This is a sign of prediabetes. Additionally, your risk may be increased if you are already taking medication to lower your blood sugar.
- High blood pressure: While occasional high blood pressure is normal,
- High triglyceride level
- Low HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
- Weight around the stomach
Having just one of these conditions does not mean you have metabolic syndrome. You must be diagnosed with at least three of these symptoms in order to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Your doctor will also run blood tests and perform a physical exam prior to diagnosis.
The more metabolic risk factors you have, the higher your chances of developing metabolic syndrome. By pursuing lifestyle changes, you can actively prevent or delay the development of this condition.
Who is at Risk for Metabolic Syndrome?
Generally speaking, people who carry weight around their waist, are inactive, and have insulin resistance are at higher risk for metabolic syndrome.
Additionally, there are some risk factors you cannot control. Non-controllable risk factors for metabolic syndrome include:
- Family history of certain conditions (eg. diabetes and heart disease)
Reducing the risk factors you can control will reduce your chances of developing metabolic syndrome.
Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
For the most part, people with metabolic syndrome do not exhibit symptoms. A large waistline is one sign to look for.
If you are in the early stages of type 2 diabetes, then you may experience symptoms such as increased thirst, blurry vision, fatigue, and increased urination.
Other Names for Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome may also be called:
- Syndrome X
- Obesity syndrome
- Insulin resistance syndrome
- Hypertriglyceridemic waist
- Dysmetabolic syndrome
Treatment & Prevention
Treating and preventing metabolic syndrome are very similar in many ways. Both focus on keeping active and making smart food choices. As an added bonus, practicing a healthy lifestyle is beneficial to your overall health!
- Exercise: Keeping active is a great way to address multiple metabolic risk factors. Regular exercise will decrease your stress levels, your risk for heart disease, help keep your blood cholesterol and sugar in check, and help you lose weight.
- Diet: Choose a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats, and avoid fatty or processed foods. Watching your sodium intake will help keep your blood pressure within normal bounds.
- Weight management: You can reduce your blood pressure and insulin resistance by dropping weight. You can also improve your HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and reduce your LDL (“bad”) levels.
- Reduce stress: Stress is normal in everyday life, but unmanaged stress can negatively impact your blood pressure. Stress can also affect your overall happiness. Engaging in a favorite hobby, taking time out of your day to meditate, exercising, or just talking to friends or family are all great ways of reducing your stress levels.
- Smoking cessation: Smoking is a major contributor to the risk of heart disease and heart attack. Quitting will help reduce these risk factors, plus many other long-term benefits.
- Medication: For some people, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to lower risk factors for metabolic syndrome. In these cases, a doctor may prescribe medication: for instance, prescribing medication to lower blood sugar or blood cholesterol. It’s important to take your medication as prescribed and not skip any doses for optimal effect.
Preventing and treating metabolic syndrome may require aggressive lifestyle changes for some people. However, it’s important to remember that acting now to prevent metabolic syndrome is a more ideal situation than reversing damage to your body later down the line. You can do it, and we can help. Make an appointment today.