Metabolic Syndrome: Are You At Risk?

Metabolic syndromeWhat is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome, also called Syndrome X or insulin resistance, is comprised of four different conditions in a person:

1). Obesity: In men, with a waistline of 40 inches or more, and in women, with waistline of 35 inches or more, is considered a risk factor.

2). High Blood Pressure: People who are on blood pressure medication, or whose blood pressure is 130/85 mm Hg or more.

3). Type 2 Diabetes: People with fasting blood sugar of more than 100 mg/ DL , or are on medication for controlling type 2 diabetes.

4). High Cholesterol : Men with a HDL of less than 40 mg/dl and women with less than 50 mg/dl.

Metabolic syndrome is basically the combination of these factors present in a person, that can put him or her at risk of developing  heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

What are the causes of Metabolic Syndrome?

The main causes of metabolic syndrome are:

  • Insulin Resistance 
  • Obesity
  • Inactive lifestyle

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas which makes it possible for the body’s cells to use and store glucose from the food. When we eat food, it is broken down into glucose and eventually absorbed into the bloodstream. When the pancreas detects a rise in blood glucose levels, it is the signal for them to release insulin. The job of insulin is to remove that glucose from the bloodstream and to bind to the cell membrane for that glucose to be used by the cells for energy. This results in the dropping of blood sugar and at the same time is a signal for the pancreas to stop producing insulin. Insulin resistance can be explained as a malfunction that occurs when the cells cannot take up the insulin in the bloodstream. This causes an increase in the blood sugar levels, due to which the pancreas never gets the signal to switch off the insulin production and as a result they make more insulin. Over time, the pancreas becomes overworked and less efficient and after some time completely stops producing insulin and the person will then have to take a daily dose of insulin. Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome are often used interchangeably.

What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Insulin Resistance?
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • High blood glucose levels.
  • Presence of protein in the urine, which is the sign of kidney damage.
  • Increased risk of  blood clots.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Sleepiness after eating a meal.
  • Sugar cravings after meal.
  • Mood swings and irritability due to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can get better with eating.
  •  Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in women.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Belly fat
  • Intestinal bloating
  • Depression
Can We Reverse Insulin Resistance Or Metabolic Syndrome?

There are steps that we can take to reverse insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.

Diet: Diet plays a very important role in reversing insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. DASH diet also known as Dietary Approach To Stop Hypertension was developed by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to treat and prevent high blood pressure, also helps with insulin resistance. Eating on time every 3 to 4 hours is very important in balancing your blood glucose levels ; at the same time eating foods with low glycemic index helps you feel full for longer period of time and lower insulin levels which reduces the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Eat foods that are whole grains and avoid processed or junk foods. Avoid alcohol consumption and high fructose corn syrup or any artificial sweeteners which can negatively impact blood glucose levels. Eating protein and fiber at every meal will also help stabilize blood sugar.

Exercise: 30 minutes of exercise every day can reverse insulin resistance. Taking a walk after dinner is one of the most powerful way to lower your blood sugar levels. Exercising is important as you age, this is because aging increases the risk of metabolic syndrome. High Intensity workout releases growth hormone HGH and slow down the aging process.

Managing Stress: Stress can cause weight gain, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. It becomes very important to manage stress for both the mind and the body. Meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises are very powerful in managing stress.

Losing Weigh :  Weight loss is a key to reverse insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. If you exercise and eat healthy, losing weigh will be a side effect of your new changed lifestyle.

Supplements : There are certain supplements that improve blood sugar levels. Caution should be used while taking these supplements. It is always best to talk to your health care provider before starting any kind of supplement regime specially if you are on any prescription medicine or have any serious health conditions as some of these supplements if taken without supervision may dangerously lower blood sugar levels or cause hypoglycemia. Some supplements used are :

  • Gymnema Sylvestre
  • Chromium
  • Magnesium
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Bitter melon
  • Freeze dried okra
  • Standardized Bilberry extract
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid
  • Omega-3
  • High quality fiber like Glucomannan.

Working with your healthcare practitioner: It is very important to talk about metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance with your health care practitioner if you have any of the above mentioned symptoms. For some people diet and exercise may not be enough and they might have to take prescription medication to improve insulin sensitivity or improve the uptake of glucose by the cells. Metabolic syndrome is reversible so be in charge of your health today, and take the necessary steps  to lose weight and eat healthy; and reduce your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Image credit: feverpitched / 123RF Stock Photo

Dash Diet for Metabolic Syndrome

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