Metabolic Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments
Metabolic syndrome is not a single disease, but a group of related health problems such as high triglycerides, diabetes, and too much belly fat. If you have at least three of these issues, your chances for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke are higher than they’d be with any of those health problems on their own.
Metabolic Syndrome: Symptoms
A large waistline which gives you an apple or pear shape to your bod, that can lead to metabolic syndrome. In general, this means a waist size of 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches or more for men. It’s not just the fat itself that’s the problem, it’s the location: belly fat is more dangerous for heart disease and other conditions.
Metabolic Syndrome: High Triglycerides
It’s a type of fat in the blood that your body makes from extra calories. If you can’t keep your level below 150 mg/dL, you could be more likely to get metabolic syndrome. You can take medicine to lower your triglyceride levels, but the best way is to lose weight, exercise, and cut back on calories.
Too Little HDL Cholesterol
HDL is “good” cholesterol that may help remove LDL, the “bad” kind, from your arteries. If your HDL is less than 50 mg/dL for a woman, or less than 40 mg/dL for a man, that can set you up for metabolic syndrome. You may be able to raise your HDL levels with weight loss, better nutrition, and scheduled exercise.
High Fasting Blood Sugar
When you don’t eat for 8 hours or so, your body begins to run out of blood sugar from food and it starts to break down the stored form. Your body uses the hormone insulin to keep levels in a healthy range. But sometimes it can’t manage this balancing act and your “fasting” blood sugar gets too high. Anything over 100 mg/dL could lead to metabolic syndrome.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against your arteries as your heart pumps and rests. If yours is higher than 130/85, you could get metabolic syndrome. But you may be able to cut your numbers naturally if you lose just 5% of your body weight. Exercise, quit smoking, and a low-salt diet will also help.
Metabolic Syndrome: Treatments
People who don’t get enough physical activity are more likely to get metabolic syndrome. You should get about 30 minutes of exercise a day, at least 5 days a week. But don’t stop there. The more you get up and move around throughout the day, the better your health will be. Even 10 minutes of exercise at a time can make a big difference.
Watch Your Weight
Too much body fat is another possible cause of metabolic syndrome. It’s strongly linked to all of the health problems that make up the condition. It also can make your body stop responding to insulin, the hormone that keeps blood sugar levels stable. That’s called insulin resistance.
If you have inflammation throughout your body or if your blood clots too easily, you may be more likely to get metabolic syndrome. Other conditions that may play a role are:
- A fatty liver: Too many triglycerides and other fats in the liver
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome: When women get cysts on their ovaries
- Gallstones: Hard pieces made from digestive fluid in the gallbladder
- Sleep apnea: You stop breathing over and over during sleep, which means you don’t get enough oxygen
Metabolic syndrome left untreated is life threatening. Cut back on sugar, salt, saturated fat, and processed foods. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Get more exercise. Quit smoking. Adopt these habits and you will lower your blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides. Moreover, you will raise your good cholesterol and trim your waistline, all of which reduces your chances of getting metabolic syndrome.
Watch this video on metabolic syndrome by CNN: