Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term used to describe a group of factors that raise the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Almost a quarter of adult Americans have metabolic syndrome, and we see many patients with the syndrome at our functional medicine practice in Tulsa, OK.
Metabolic syndrome can be because of unhealthy lifestyle choices and certain genetic factors. But here’s the good news: you can bring it under control by making certain lifestyle adjustments.
Metabolic syndrome has at least three of these five factors:
- high blood pressure (130/85 mm/Hg and higher)
- waist size of 40 inches and more in men and 35 inches and more in women
- triglyceride levels of 150 mg/dL and higher
- HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels lower than 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women
- fasting glucose levels of 100 mg/dL or higher
As you can see, all of these factors are measurable. If you suspect you may have metabolic syndrome, get your blood pressure checked and have your functional medicine practitioner in Tulsa, OK, order blood cholesterol and blood sugar tests.
Risk factors for developing metabolic syndrome
Factors that put you at a higher risk of developing this syndrome include the following:
- having a close blood relative with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease
- older age
- insulin resistance
- lack of physical activity
- having had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Prevention and treatment
Addressing and preventing metabolic syndrome lie in changing some of your lifestyle aspects that cause the condition:
- Eat a healthier diet. Exclude processed foods and trans fats from your diet; limit saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods. A Mediterranean diet rich in healthy fats is ideal if you are at risk of metabolic syndrome or already have it.
- Get more exercise. It’s easier said than done, but it is immensely beneficial in the long run. Your goal is to exercise on most days of the week; the optimal amount is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, ask your primary care provider what amount and what type of exercise is safe. You don’t have to hit the gym every day right from the beginning – brisk walking when you have the time, or cycling is excellent for a start. Make exercising your habit and gradually increase the amount of activity you get.
- Healthily lose weight. Weight loss due to healthy eating and exercise is much better for your overall health than crash dieting or weight-loss surgery.
- Monitor your blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol. If you have metabolic syndrome or are at risk of developing it, ask your practioner how often you need to have tests to monitor the success of your treatment and your own steps to improve it.
- Don’t smoke. It’s not yet clear whether smoking increases your blood pressure, but the habit is known to contribute to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which puts you at a higher risk of a heart attack and other cardiovascular events. If you don’t smoke, good for you! But if you do, ask your doctor about ways to quit.