The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health disorders that increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It’s also known as Syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome. This article will help you understand what causes the metabolic syndrome and how to treat it.
What is the Metabolic Syndrome?
The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health disorders that increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
It is a condition that can develop when your body has too many metabolic problems.
The term was first used in 1980 and has been on an upswing due to our growing obesity rates as adults and it may soon surpass smoking as the leading risk factor for heart disease.
The main features of the metabolic syndrome are:
- Abdominal obesity (excess fat around the waist)
- High blood pressure
- Low HDL cholesterol levels (“good” cholesterol)
- Elevated triglyceride levels
- High blood sugar
The metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when you have three or more of these features.
Also, your risk for complications due to heart disease, strokes and diabetes increases with the number of metabolic risk factors you have.
What Causes the Metabolic Syndrome?
The metabolic syndrome is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Some of the most common causes include:
- Obesity or being overweight
- Lack of physical activity
- High blood pressure
- Insulin resistance or pre-diabetes
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels, such as high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol
- High blood triglycerides (blood fats)
Furthermore, insulin resistance may also increase the risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells cannot use insulin properly. Insulin is an hormone that moves the blood sugar into our cells to give us energy.
Resistance to insulin leads to high blood sugar levels and can cause metabolic syndrome, both of which are closely linked with being overweight or obesity.
Is it Genetic?
The health disorders associated with Metabolic Syndrome tend to run in families. If you have one, there’s a good chance your children will also develop some of the same problems later on as they get older if nothing changes in their lives.
However, the factors that play into metabolic syndrome aren’t just genetics; it also depends on your ethnic background and family history as well age.
For instance, older people tend not have as much muscle mass so even if they are healthy, their bodies will produce more glucose than somebody younger would despite eating an identical diet (this happens because our muscles naturally shrink with age).
However, the metabolic syndrome can be reversed through lifestyle modifications and, in some cases, medications.
How to Treat the Metabolic Syndrome
The good news is that there are many things you can do to treat the metabolic syndrome and improve your health. Here are a few of the most important ones:
- Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Firstly, you may need to adopt the right attitude and mindset for losing weight.
- Get active! Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your health and reduce your risk for diseases like obesity and the metabolic syndrome.
- Eat a healthy diet. This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. It’s also important to limit unhealthy fats, trans fats, and refined carbohydrates.
- Quit smoking if you smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 Americans every year according to CDC estimates . It’ll also increase your risk for heart disease and stroke over time as well as other serious health problems like cancer.
If you have the metabolic syndrome, it’s important to make these lifestyle changes and see your doctor if you need help getting started. With a little effort, you can improve your health and reduce your risk of developing serious diseases.
Prevention and Tips to Avoid a Diagnosis of the Metabolic Syndrome
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating the metabolic syndrome. However, there are a few general steps that you can take to help lower your risk for developing the condition or to improve your symptoms if you have it. These include:
- Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
- Managing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Avoiding tobacco smoke.
Rome wasn’t built in a days so no one expects you to overhaul your complete lifestyle from the get-go. Implementing little changes gradually can have a positive impact on your health in the long run.
If you would like more personalized tips or information on how to treat your metabolic syndrome, speak with your doctor. They can help create a treatment plan that is tailored specifically for you.
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