Making Sense of Metabolic Syndrome: Implications for Your Health

Metabolic syndrome isn’t a new term, and lots of people are talking about it these days, with good reason. If you’re unsure of what to believe from the plethora of information about the disease, here are the basic facts about this syndrome and why it matters if you want to get and stay in good health.

Basic Facts About Metabolic Syndrome

1. Understand the controversy. It’s only in the past 25 years that people started being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Some medical experts are still unsure of whether it’s really a distinct condition. Still, there is clear cut evidence that all the factors involved are crucial to your health.

2. Recognize the widespread nature of the condition. Metabolic syndrome affects over 70 million adults in the U.S. That’s more than one in three adults and the numbers are growing.

3. Know the risk factors. There are many risk factors involved, including being overweight or physically inactive. Other negative factors include high blood pressure, high blood sugar and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

4. Spot the symptoms. Regular doctor checkups are essential because many of the symptoms are hidden. The one thing you can monitor easily is your waistline. Excess belly fat is an obvious sign.

5. Appreciate the seriousness of its impact. The cluster of metabolic factors listed above is known to double the risk of heart attack and stroke. It raises the risk of developing diabetes by 5 times.

Preventing and Treating Metabolic Syndrome

1. Have a serious talk with your doctor. Your doctor can order or perform lab tests to determine if you have metabolic syndrome. That means you have at least 3 symptoms, such as excess abdominal fat, unhealthy cholesterol, high blood pressure, high fasting glucose or insulin resistance.

2. Eat right, and eat better. A healthy diet plays a big role in prevention and treatment. Cut down on processed foods, unhealthy fats and sugar. Eat more vegetables and fruits, whole grains and low fat proteins.

3. Limit and track your carbohydrate intake. A diet high in carbohydrates is of particular concern. Try to get less than 60% of your daily calories from carbohydrates and pick good carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables and fruit.

4. Lose inches and excess pounds. If you’re overweight, start following a sensible eating plan that you can stick with for life. Your waistline may be even more important than any scale reading. The best waist size for a man is under 40 inches and under 35 for women.

5. Exercise regularly and consistently. A physically active lifestyle is your best defense. Train for cardiovascular health, strength and flexibility. Find workouts you can enjoy most days of the week for at least 30 minutes daily. Brisk walking is free and effective.

6. Quit smoking. Smoking tobacco puts a serious strain on your circulatory system. Quitting is a great way to lower your risk of heart disease.

7. Take your medications as directed. Many people can avoid metabolic syndrome through lifestyle changes alone. Your doctor can advise you if you need medication as well. These drugs may include medicines for high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes. Your doctor may also recommend aspirin to manage your risk for heart attacks or strokes.

8. Be extra vigilant as you age. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases as we age. Experts estimate a 20% in risk in our 40s. That rises to 45% when we are over 60.

9. Collect and be aware of your family history. Like many conditions, metabolic syndrome involves genetic aspects. Find out whether you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes or stroke.

Maybe metabolic syndrome fails to meet the criteria for a distinct condition, but the factors involved are well substantiated as being of major importance to your health. If you have risk factors like high blood pressure or excess fat around your waistline, it’s important to your health to overhaul your lifestyle and talk with your doctor.