Metabolic Syndrome – Functional Medicine Answers

By Dr Ernst
September 10, 2022

Metabolic syndrome affects 40 percent of people over the age of 60. It is a metabolic disorder that involves a combination of three or more of the following health issues: abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure or low HDL (good) cholesterol.

   Metabolic syndrome is sometimes called dysmetabolic syndrome X, metabolic disease or insulin resistance syndrome. It’s a term for a cluster of conditions, including abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, high fasting blood sugar levels, high blood pressure or low HDL cholesterol. When a person has three or more of these metabolic risk factors occurring together, then he or she is diagnosed as having metabolic syndrome.

   About 85 percent of people who have type 2 diabetes also have metabolic syndrome and have a much higher risk for heart disease. Natural diabetes treatments are also used to treat metabolic syndrome. A healthy digestive system breaks down food into glucose. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the glucose enter your cells to be used as fuel. If you experience insulin resistance, your cells won’t respond in a typical fashion to insulin and glucose cannot enter your cells as easily.

   The biggest link to metabolic syndrome is being overweight and having insulin resistance. A study showed that an hour of weekly resistance exercise was associated with 29 percent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, compared to resistance exercising. Those who coupled aerobic exercise with their resistance exercise showed a 25 percent lower risk.

  The risk of developing metabolic syndrome increases with age. Just a small amount of visceral fat around the midsection can influence vital organs like the liver and make them less effective. Metabolic syndrome also tends to be more prevalent among ethnic groups such as Asians, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans.

   The main visible sign of metabolic syndrome is a large waistline but many people don’t exhibit physical symptoms at all. Eventually, it can lead to symptoms like urinating more, fatigue and blurred vision.

   The key factors in diagnosis are: Fat around the waistline (more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men); triglyceride levels that are more than 150 mg/DL; low HDL cholesterol (less than 50 mg/DL in women and 60 mg/DL in men); high blood sugar levels when fasting; and high blood pressure.

   There are foods that make metabolic syndrome worse. They include the following.

   Fake and Processed Foods: Avoid these as much as possible. These frozen, bagged and boxed items are typically devoid of nutrients and loaded with unhealthy additives and preservatives that do nothing good for your health.

   Artificial Sweeteners: Splenda has been directly linked with the occurrence of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Sugar substitutes containing aspartame, sucralose and saccharin may also be at an increased risk of excessive weight gain as well as development of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

   Diet Sodas: These contain artificial sweeteners and other unhealthy ingredients making them lethal soft drinks. Daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 36 percent greater risk of metabolic syndrome and a 67 percent greater risk of having type 2 diabetes.

   Trans Fats: These are found in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as margarine; baked goods like cookies, cakes and pies; crackers; frostings, and coffee creamers.

   Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar: Consumption of these are major culprits when it comes to high blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and the development of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Fruits, sports drinks and sugary soda beverages can spike your child’s blood sugar levels. Water is the best beverage for healthy hydration. Unsweet tea, coffee, fruits and vegetables provide water without extra calories, so they are good to consume.

   Alcohol: Limiting alcohol intake is key to metabolic syndrome and good health in general. Very light alcohol consumption seems to be associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. Men should have no more than two drinks containing alcohol a day, while women should have no more than one.

   When it comes to metabolic syndrome and encouraging good health in general, you want to focus on consuming whole, real, high-quality food and drinks. Some of the top foods to heal and prevent metabolic syndrome are:

   Fish & Omega-3 Foods: Wild-caught, cold-water fish have been found to help regulate heartbeat, reduce blood pressure, decrease blood clot formation and reduce overall inflammation. Omega-3 foods include walnuts, flaxseeds, natto and grass-fed beef.

   Vegetables: Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, avocado, broccoli, cabbage and carrots are some good options.

   Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears or prunes can be consumed on the go. Pomegranate and pomegranate seeds have been shown to help against metabolic syndrome.

   Legumes: Good ones include kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lima beans.

   Whole Grains: High-fiber foods like quality whole grains including oatmeal and brown rice have been proven to benefit your health in many ways.

   Supplements have been proven to improve health as well as help prevent metabolic syndrome. Some of the best include: ginseng, berberine, bitter melon, holy basil, spirulina, maca root, vitamin D, GoQ10, curcumin, milk thistle, resveratrol and vitamin C.

   Lifestyle changes are also important when dealing with metabolic syndrome. Losing weight, even a modest five percent of your body weight can have positive impacts. Exercising regularly at least 60 minutes a day, five days a week is life changing. Sitting is the new smoking, so limit sedentary activities. Testing your fasting insulin levels can predict the risks.

   You should also review your family history. Your genetic makeup is part of the risk factors, so check to see the health of the family. Your body shape matters as to where you wear your fat. Carrying weight around the middle is an indication of excess visceral fat, a key risk factor for the development of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers.

   Knowing things like this will allow you to take action now to prevent issues with metabolic syndrome later in life.

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