Last Updated June 11th, 2019
What is metabolic syndrome?
A group of risk factors that may increase the chances of acquiring heart disease, diabetes, and stroke are called metabolic syndrome. The five factors responsible for metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, increased sugar levels, a large amount of fat around the waist, high triglyceride levels, as well as reduced levels of HDL.
You cannot come to the conclusion that having these risk factors may cause metabolic syndrome, but the fact is having one of these risk factors can lead you to have metabolic syndrome in the long run. A person having at least three of these risk factors will generally be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. There is no exact cause for metabolic syndrome. It is believed that the lifestyle and diet generally influence it.
Two main risk factors are considered to be highly influential leading to metabolic syndrome and include obesity and insulin resistance. Any type of fat accumulation in the middle or upper part of the body is considered to be a high-risk factor. Family history also plays an important role in influencing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome affects around 23% of adults in the United States of America.
Risk factors for metabolic syndrome
- Age: Generally the risk of metabolic syndrome may increase with age.
- Race: Race plays an important role in influencing metabolic syndrome. Generally, Asians and Hispanics are at higher risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Obesity: Accumulation of fat around the waist and upper part of the body increases your risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Diabetes: If you have a family history of diabetes or if you have had diabetes during pregnancy can put you on the high risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Other diseases: Risk of metabolic syndrome increases if you ever had cardiovascular disease, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Metabolic Syndrome Causes
Studies have revealed that lack of physical activity and obesity are considered to be the two main causes of metabolic syndrome. Generally, metabolic syndrome affects people with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is usually common in people who are obese and inactive. Let us first understand what insulin resistance is.
The digestive system is responsible to break down food particles into glucose. This glucose is helped by a hormone called insulin to enter the cells. If there is insulin resistance, the process of insulin helping the glucose to enter the cells reduces causing a lesser number of glucose entering the cells.
This leads to increased levels of glucose in the bloodstream even if more insulin is produced by the pancreas. When this phenomenon continues for a long time, the body is unable to produce enough insulin to manage glucose levels leading to diabetes. Studies have indicated that around 85% of people having type 2 diabetes also have metabolic syndrome, which is a clear indication that diabetes is a high-risk factor for metabolic syndrome.
Symptoms of metabolic syndrome
It is surprising but true that many of the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome do not have any symptoms. However, obesity is considered to be a visible sign of the metabolic syndrome. Some of the other symptoms are discussed below:
High Blood Sugar: High blood sugar can increase the signs and symptoms of diabetes. A person affected from diabetes may experience increased thirst, frequent urination, vision abnormality, as well as fatigue. A fasting blood sugar level that is high is considered a metabolic risk factor.
High Blood Pressure: It is another symptom and risk factor associated with metabolic syndrome. This symptom can go unnoticed unless you are regularly visiting a doctor. A blood pressure that is higher than 130/85 mmHg is considered a metabolic syndrome risk factor.
High Triglycerides: It is a type of fat or lipid present in the blood. The excess calories produced by the body is converted to triglycerides and stored in the body. A triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or higher is considered to be a metabolic syndrome risk factor.
Low HDL Cholesterol: HDL cholesterol helps remove cholesterol from the arteries and is considered good cholesterol. Low level of HDL that is less than 40 mg/dL is considered a risk factor for metabolic syndrome.
Natural Metabolic Syndrome Treatment
Essential Oils: Since obesity and fat accumulation around the waist is considered to be a high-risk factor for metabolic syndrome, losing weight becomes the priority. Essential oils are helpful in this process. There are three wonderful essential oils available namely grapefruit, cinnamon, and ginger. Grapefruit oil helps in breaking down fat present in the body by activating certain enzymes. Blood glucose levels can be regulated with the use of cinnamon oil. It also regulates glucose tolerance factor in the body. Ginger oil is widely used to reduce inflammation in the body. It is helpful in reducing sugar cravings and promote digestion.
Burst Training: It is a high-intensity interval training, which increases fat burning. Losing fat from the body is important when treating metabolic syndrome. During the burst training process, you need to exercise 90-100% of maximum effort for at least 30-60 seconds. Later you can slow down for a low-impact recovery period of 30-60 seconds, and then repeating the process again. It is not important to spend hours on a treadmill, which is not helpful in fat burning whereas burst training particularly concentrates on fat burning. If you feel that burst training is too intense, you can choose for at least 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity exercise.
Lose Weight: A combination of exercise, as well as diet together, helps in the process of weight loss. You need to intake fewer calories per day and follow it with burning more calories than your intake. Reducing weight is helpful in reducing insulin resistance as well as get metabolic syndrome under control.
Stop Smoking and avoid alcohol: Smoking and drinking alcohol can exacerbate metabolic syndrome. Both smoking and drinking alcohol are known to increase the risk factors for heart problems as well as stroke. Both heart problems, as well as stroke, are considered to be high risk for causing metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome Diet
Foods to avoid
Processed Foods: Any food that is frozen, boxed and bagged typically is low on nutrients. They contain a high concentration of unhealthy additives and preservatives, which again adds up several other health issues. Studies have indicated that processed foods such as fast foods are known to increase the risk factor of metabolic syndrome in children and adults.
Artificial Sweeteners: People choose artificial sweeteners due to their low-calorie count. They claim not to alter the blood sugar levels. Studies have indicated that people using artificial sweeteners on a long-term basis are at risk of developing diabetes as well as gain weight. Both of these factors are considered to be high-risk factors for metabolic syndrome.
Diet Sodas: They are considered to be a slow poison, which is quite lethal. In order to reduce the calories in the drink, artificial sweeteners are added to the drink and claim that they are low on calories. As discussed earlier, artificial sweeteners are unhealthy and are associated with weight gain and diabetes. Studies have indicated that daily consumption of diet soda can lead to a 36% greater risk of metabolic syndrome. It also indicates that 67% are at risk of having type 2 diabetes due to daily consumption of diet soda.
Trans Fatty Acids: The biggest drawback of trans fats are they are known to increase the LDL levels in the body. LDL cholesterol is considered to be bad cholesterol. They are known to obstruct blood flow in the arteries by forming plaques along the inner walls of the arteries. This increases the risk of heart problems. They also help in the accumulation of fat around the waistline, which is again considered to be high risk for the metabolic disorder.
Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar: Consuming refined carbohydrates and sugar can lead to several health issues. They are known to increase blood sugar levels, cause insulin resistance, as well as diabetes. Consuming sugary beverages such as sodas as well as other sugary foods increases the blood sugar levels leading to diabetes. Studies have also indicated that refined carbs such as pastries, white bread, pasta, etc are helpful in increasing LDL and triglyceride levels in the body. All these factors are considered to be risk factors for metabolic syndrome.
Alcohol: Minimal alcohol consumption is associated with reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, but when it comes to alcohol, the minimal level is always exceeded. This causes several detrimental effects on the body. Increased levels of alcohol cause hypertension as well as increase the triglyceride levels. They also add up to the calories. Due to increased levels of alcohol consumption, the body tends to eliminate it leading to frequent urination causing electrolyte imbalance. All these factors are considered a high risk of causing metabolic syndrome. Studies have indicated that men should not consume more than two drinks per day whereas women should not consume more than one drink per day.
Foods to eat
In order to fight metabolic syndrome, one has to choose the right kind of food such as whole high-quality food. Some of the best foods to eat to tackle metabolic syndrome include:
Omega-3 Foods: They are effective in reducing the triglycerides levels and improve the HDL. Since omega-3 is not produced by the body, it is important to supplement them through diet. A ton of benefits is associated with the consumption of omega-3 rich foods. Some of the benefits include reducing inflammation, maintaining a healthy heart, improving brain function, as well as limiting the occurrence of autoimmune diseases. It is recommended to get sufficient omega-3 by consuming foods such as Alaskan salmon, herring, mackerel, etc. There are also several plant-based foods containing omega-3 which can be supplemented through diet. Due to these properties of omega-3 food, they are helpful in reducing the risk factor of metabolic syndrome.
Vegetables: Vegetables are considered to be the best source of nutrients. They are helpful in fighting disease as well as contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, etc are some of the few options you can choose in this wide variety. Some people feel that vegetables do not taste good and avoid it. It is actually up to you for making a vegetable taste good by making the right dish or salad out of it. By doing this you keep the meal interesting as well as gain the numerous nutrients that vegetables are to offer you.
Fruits: Fruits are rich in nutrients and other useful ingredients such as antioxidants, and contain anti-inflammatory effects. Fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, pears, etc taste great as well as promote several health benefits. It is advised to consume them in moderation, as fruits contain natural sugar, which may not be suitable for all such as diabetes patients. Pomegranate fruit is known for its various health benefits and is considered to be one of the best fruits to fight metabolic syndrome. Studies have indicated that pomegranate is helpful in promoting the hypoglycaemic effect as well as increase insulin sensitivity. Both of these factors are helpful for patients suffering from diabetes.
Legumes: Legumes are considered to be an important component of a healthy diet. They are the best protein source available from plants. The biggest positive aspect of legumes is the rich nutrient content coupled with low calories. Adding legumes to the diet promotes several health benefits including anti-inflammatory effects and anti-carcinogenic effects. They are also known to contain bioactive peptides. They are helpful to treat several chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. It becomes very easy for a person affected by these chronic conditions to easily adapt to a healthy diet consisting of legumes. There are several ways to include legumes in our daily diet such as adding them to homemade soups, using them to make vegetarian tacos, used for hamburger mixtures, as well as used in curries as an alternative for meat that can be enjoyed with cooked rice.
Whole Grains: They are high-fiber foods, which aid in several health benefits. Whole grains are helpful in managing heart health as well as diabetes. They are low in calories and hence do not add to the fat intake. This helps in maintaining a leaner and healthy body habitus.
Ginseng, Berberine & Bitter melon: These supplements are used in Chinese medicine. They are helpful in reducing blood glucose levels as well as reduce weight. This property is helpful in fighting metabolic syndrome.
Holy Basil: Researchers have studied extensively the use of holy basil through the double-blind test and have found that they are helpful in improving the blood glucose levels as well as reduce cholesterol levels. Studies have concluded that holy basil can be used safely to help control diabetes as well as other complications that can arise from the disease like metabolic syndrome.
Spirulina: Spirulina is known to contain a potent pigment called phycocyanin. This pigment is helpful in reducing blood pressure level. Studies have indicated that consuming them can reverse endothelial dysfunction in metabolic syndrome.
Maca Root: Maca root has the ability to improve the immune system and disease resistance. They also regulate cholesterol levels. They are also helpful in improving glucose tolerance by lowering glucose levels in the blood. This helps in heart health and diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is considered to be one of the most prevalent diseases present in the modern world. It is largely influenced due to an unhealthy diet. Both children and adult are falling prey to this deadly syndrome. Preventing metabolic syndrome is solely in your hands. Lifestyle change is a decision which needs to be made by you. If you continue to indulge in unhealthy dietary habits, it will only aggravate the condition and lead to metabolic syndrome. Apart from standard treatment for metabolic syndrome, there are several other natural remedies available which need to be implemented. Since obesity seems to be the biggest culprit, it can easily be challenged with a healthy diet.
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