Everyone is talking about it these days. When you turn on the T.V., check the headlines, or flip open a magazine it always seems to be the topic of conversation.
We’re talking about metabolic syndrome, of course. And the reason you’re hearing so much about it these days is because it’s estimated that around 35 percent of American adults, and an astounding 50 percent of adults over 60, now have the syndrome. And your chance of developing it rises with age.
In other words, every single one of us is at risk.
Metabolic syndrome isn’t a single disease, it’s actually a combination of a number of different health conditions. This is what can make it so difficult to know whether or not you have it. In fact many folks qualify for a diagnosis for years before finally being told they have it.
But here’s the thing, not knowing you have metabolic syndrome can be downright dangerous. Having it sends your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, fatty liver, sleep apnea, stroke and death skyrocketing.
Understanding a not so simple syndrome
The sooner you know you have it the sooner you can start on the road to recovery. A doctor can help you with a final diagnosis, but if you have a combination of two or more of the following four red flags chances are you’re already suffering from metabolic syndrome.
One of the first signs of metabolic syndrome is obesity. If you’re overweight, and you don’t get much exercise, please keep reading.
2. Insulin resistance:
When you eat, your digestive system converts the food into glucose. Your body then produces insulin, a hormone that helps move that glucose from your blood stream into your cells. Then it gets used as fuel to run all your systems.
But when you have insulin resistance, your body doesn’t respond to the hormone efficiently anymore, and the glucose doesn’t get moved from your blood stream into your cells. Your body pumps out more and more insulin, but the glucose continues to build up raising your blood sugar levels.
It’s easy to check your blood sugar at home. You can pick up a glucose meter in any drug or department store. Follow the meter’s instructions to take a fasting blood sugar. If your fasting glucose is greater than or equal to 100 mg, you could have insulin resistance.
3. A large waistline:
It’s not just being overweight that’s an issue. Carrying excess weight around your middle can be harder on your health than if it’s spread more evenly throughout your body. And even if you aren’t overweight, fat distribution still matters. Thinner folks with a “beer belly” are at risk for metabolic syndrome too.
In men, a waistline of 40 inches or more is a warning sign for metabolic syndrome. In women, it’s 35 inches or more.
4. Lab results:
The results of your latest (or next) physical can give you a clue that you may be suffering from metabolic syndrome. When diagnosing the syndrome you look for four different numbers:
- Triglycerides: greater or equal to 150 mg
- HDL “good” cholesterol: less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women
- Blood pressure: 130/85 or greater
If you have two or more of these red flags chances are you already have metabolic syndrome, or are well on your way. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss a game plan for reversing course.
In the meantime making a few changes to your lifestyle can help you begin to turn things around.
Lose weight: Even a moderate amount of weight loss can start to bring your blood pressure down, improve your good cholesterol numbers and help your body use insulin more efficiently.
Make a move: Get up and out of your chair for a half an hour every day. We suggest a walk at lunch or after dinner.
Tweak your diet: Try slashing the simple carbohydrates in your diet. Eat more fiber, protein and good fats. Swap out harmful vegetable oils for coconut or olive oils instead.
Metabolic syndrome doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Committing to making a few changes today can lead to many more HEALTHY tomorrows.