Metabolic syndrome is a group of five risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Lifestyle changes like losing weight, exercise, and dietary changes can help prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome.
The five risk factors are: increased blood pressure (greater than 130/85 mmHg); high blood sugar levels (insulin resistance); excess fat around the waist; high triglyceride levels and/or low levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
Having one of these risk factors does not mean that you have metabolic syndrome. However, having one will increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Having three or more of these factors will result in a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome and it will increase your risk of health complications.
The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 23 percent of adults currently have metabolic syndrome.
Did you know that there really are NO discernible symptoms for metabolic syndrome? Aside from a large waist circumference of greater than 40 inches in men, and greater than 35 inches in women, most of the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome have no symptoms.
To find out if you have (or are prone to) metabolic syndrome, your doctor will perform several different tests in addition to checking your waist circumference.
Your fasting blood triglycerides will be tested— is your level 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater?
You will be asked about your cholesterol levels. Is your HDL cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL (men) or less than 50 mg/dL (women)?
You will have your fasting glucose level checked. Is it 100 mg/dL or greater?
How is your blood pressure? Is your Systolic blood pressure (top number) 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater, or diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 85 mm Hg or greater?
If your answers are yes to any of three or more of tests, you may have metabolic syndrome.
So, if you’re having trouble losing weight, metabolic syndrome could be the reason why! When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to convert glucose to energy for your cells, it gets stored as excess fat. Even though you may be eating LESS than your skinny friends!
If you think you may be one of the 25% of adults affected by this disorder, there are a few things you can do to reverse the symptoms if you have it and if you don’t have it you can prevent it from happening to you.
The first is increase your exercise. Find something you like doing and start slowly. It can be something as simple as taking your dog for a walk more often and gradually increasing distance, or parking further away from you destination’s entrance to increase the number of steps you take each day.
This next tip is always harder than it sounds: lose weight if you’re overweight. It will be easier to lose weight if you do increase your exercise.
Make certain to eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low fat dairy. Go easy on the saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, and salt—it will make a difference.
You can also add supplements to your diet. I personally added Peak Performance Metabolic Health Bundle to help provide metabolic support. This supplement pack works to slow my body’s absorption of sugar, inhibits the release of sugar in the bloodstream, and supports thermogenesis as well efficient calorie burning for healthy weight management. It seems to work for me—the weight loss and toning is quite noticeable!
Quit smoking if you smoke. Seriously, does any smoke anymore? It is just so bad for you!
Lastly, Schedule regular checkups with your healthcare provider to monitor and manage blood glucose, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Download The American Heart Association’s printable Answers by Heart sheet: What is Metabolic Syndrome? (PDF)