All you Need to Know about Metabolic Syndrome

Chronic diseases are becoming more and more widespread in today’s world and are among the leading causes of death. It is estimated that 44% of adult Canadians have at least one chronic condition. Most of the time, chronic diseases come from unhealthy choices, a bad diet, and a sedentary lifestyle. 

In today’s post, I’m going to shed some light on metabolic syndrome. Although it may sound mysterious, metabolic syndrome is one of the most common causes of heart disease and stroke. But there’s still too much confusion around it: what is it? How to diagnose and treat it? 

First of all, you need to be aware that metabolic syndrome is not a disease but a combination of various risk factors that can lead to developing chronic diseases. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t underestimate it, as it can impact your overall well-being, especially your cardiovascular health. 

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin-resistance syndrome, denotes a combination of conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, that appear to increase the risk of chronic diseases. 

If you have metabolic syndrome, you can experience high blood pressure, high glycemia (blood sugar), excess body fat (such that in the waist area), and high cholesterol or triglyceride levels. If you have just one of these symptoms, you don’t necessarily have metabolic syndrome,however, these conditions increases the risk to develop the said condition.

According to a study published in 2014, 19.1% of all Canadian adults— nearly 1 in 5 people — have metabolic syndrome, but most of them are unaware of it. It’s crucial to understand the causes behind this condition and be able to diagnose it. If left untreated, metabolic syndrome can promote chronic diseases (such as hypertension, diabetes, or even cancer) and lead to severe health consequences. 

Causes of metabolic syndrome

Several risk factors can promote the development of metabolic syndrome. Some of them arise from your lifestyle; others may come from genetic factors (such as family history or ethnicity) or age. While you can’t change genetics, you can do a lot to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and this means taking a huge step in the direction of your well-being.

Some of the most common causes of metabolic syndrome include lack of physical exercise, overweight and obesity, and an unhealthy diet. These factors increase the possibility of developing abdominal fat, which increases the risk of other symptoms, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. 

Other risk factors that suggest you may develop metabolic syndrome are: 

  • With aging, the risk of metabolic syndrome tends to increase.
  • Extra weight, especially in the abdomen area, increases the risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Other diseases. You are more likely to develop it if you’ve had other diseases, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, sleep apnea, or fatty liver.
  • Medicines. Medications that affect blood pressure, sugar or cholesterol levels or cause weight gain can increase metabolic syndrome risk. 

Metabolic syndrome is related to insulin resistance; these conditions are often considered the same disease. To understand what insulin resistance is, you must know what insulin is and what its primary function is.

Insulin is a natural hormone secreted by our pancreas to help the cell in the body absorb sugar. This hormone is essential to your body, as it converts sugar into energy. If you suffer from insulin resistance, cells don’t respond properly to the hormone. As a result, glucose can’t enter the cells and accumulates in your blood, thus increasing sugar levels. Your pancreas, in turn, produces more insulin to supply and tries to lower your blood sugar. This system may work for a while to maintain your blood sugar levels. But in the long-run, the pancreas won’t be able to keep your sugar levels stable, so your blood sugar increases. 

You can often act to prevent most of the risk factors listed above. And you can do so by adopting healthy choices — scroll a few paragraphs down to know the best solutions you can take.

Signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome

Most of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome aren’t unique. This means they’re not strictly related to metabolic syndrome, and you can associate them with other diseases. In any case, symptoms are always a signal that there’s something wrong in your body; thus, you need to ask a doctor whenever you experience something suspicious.

Overweight in the waist area and increased waist circumference can be signs you have metabolic syndrome. But that’s not straightforward: people with a slender figure can develop metabolic syndrome, too. Indeed, several other risk factors aren’t related to body weight. For example, you can experience some typical diabetes symptoms (like frequent urination, increased thirst, and fatigue).

How do physicians diagnose metabolic syndrome?

Guidelines suggest that a simple way to assess your risk of developing metabolic syndrome is to check whether you have five of the most common symptoms associated with it. If you have at least three of them, you might have metabolic syndrome. 

These are the most common symptoms of metabolic syndrome:

  • overweight or excess fat around your waist. Excess fat in the stomach area is typical of people who have an “apple shape,” which means they tend to store fat in their belly area. On the other side, fat in the hips isn’t as dangerous as the one in your abdomen. You are considered at risk of having metabolic syndrome if you have a waist circumference larger than 35 inches (88 cm) for women and 40 inches (102 cm) for men.

  • high triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are fats that are present in the bloodstream; they may clog your blood vessels. You’re at risk of developing metabolic syndrome if your triglycerides value is 1.7 mmol/L or higher or if you’re taking medications.

  • Low HDL cholesterol levels. HDL is also called the “good cholesterol” as it helps remove cholesterol from the arteries. If the value is too low, cholesterol accumulates in your blood, leading to cardiovascular problems. HDL is considered low when it is under 1.0 mmol/L in men or 1.3 mmol/L in women.

  • High blood pressure. Blood pressure pertains to the force at which the heart pumps the blood into the blood vessels. High blood pressure can damage your vessels, leading to coronary disease and even stroke. You’re considered at risk if your blood pressure is higher than 130/85mmHg.

  • High fasting sugar levels in your blood. People who have diabetes type II are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. You’re at risk if you’re receiving medications or if your blood sugar is above 5.6 mmol/L. 

It’s important to highlight that these symptoms are intertwined. This means that they can influence one another; having one can increase the risk of developing the others.

For example, high triglycerides and low HDL can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition in which fats clog the arteries by creating plaques. Atherosclerosis can increase your blood pressure, together with the risk of stroke and heart disease. On the other hand, obesity can alter your triglyceride and cholesterol values and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

To have an idea of whether you have (or you risk) metabolic syndrome, you can ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Am I overweight? Do I have excess fat around my waist?

  2. Do I have high blood pressure?

  3. Is my HDL level too low?

  4. Do I have high sugar levels in my blood?

  5. Do I have high triglyceride levels?

If you answered “yes” to at least three of the previous questions, then you may have metabolic syndrome, and you should visit a doctor.

Metabolic syndrome: prevention and treatment

The best way to prevent metabolic syndrome is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and regularly check your lipid levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure. You should worry when you find irregular values, have extra weight in your abdomen, or your blood pressure is higher than average values.

To understand how to deal with metabolic syndrome, you must be aware that treatment aims to improve your overall cardiovascular health. The key to tackle metabolic syndrome is to adopt changes in your lifestyle to decrease your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. No matter how drastic they can be: it’s vital to adopt such changes. Otherwise, you risk serious health consequences. 

Most of the time, though, these changes aren’t as extreme as you think, as they involve adopting a balanced diet and maintaining regular body weight. In more serious cases, you might need to take medicines. But before taking any decision, you need to ask your general practitioner: he knows best what works for you.

Act on your diet

A balanced diet, low in sugars and salt, is essential to stabilize your sugar levels and blood pressure. 

Here’s some of the food you need to include in your diet: 

  • healthy fats. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats work best to increase your HDL cholesterol levels (you can consume olive oil, avocados, chia and flax seeds, dried fruit, salmon, and mackerel to increase your fats intake).

  • lots of fruit and vegetables: they’re essential to getting a boost of fiber, vitamins, and minerals;

  • Legumes and grains, which provide you with complex carbohydrates. As we discussed from the macronutirents article, carbohydrates are necessary for a balanced diet, but most of the time, we tend to prefer simple sugars, which are easier to absorb but increase our glycemia. Eating legumes and grains helps you limit the intake of simple sugars.

On the other side, you should limit:

  • Refined carbohydrates like white flour, white bread, pasta, or breakfast cereals.

  • Processed foods — they contain trans fats and are loaded with sugar.

  • Red meat and animal fat.

A balanced diet leads to healthy HDL and LDL levels, improves insulin resistance, regulates your blood pressure, and helps you lose weight.

Do regular physical exercise 

Physical exercise is vital to prevent metabolic syndrome and tackle many of the health problems related. A 1996 research demonstrated that regular exercise has a positive effect on insulin resistance. In the study, two groups (children of parents with diabetes compared to normal subjects) did regular aerobic exercise thrice a week for six weeks. Insulin sensitivity measurements showed that training had a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels.

Besides acting on insulin resistance, physical exercise provides further benefits. It directly affects the heart, leading to better oxygen supply and regulating blood pressure levels. And, of course, it’s essential to reduce weight.

You don’t have to spend hours in the gym or do hard workout sessions to benefit from physical activity. A 30 minutes walk works, too. Aerobic exercises such as cycling and jogging, as well as swimming can help reduce weight and regulate blood pressure. Practices like yoga, tai chi, or mild gymnastics may improve circulation and flexibility, strengthen your muscles, and improve your immune system.

Be careful of your stress levels

Stress is harmful to your body. That’s not an assumption, but a reality: studies show that negative emotions and anxiety put you in a constant alert mode that increases your heart rate and blood pressure. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to adopt unhealthy habits (such as smoking or drinking), and you tend to be less careful with your diet. To reduce stress, try to do meditation or some breathing exercises.

Quit smoking

Smoking is detrimental to your whole body. It increases the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, lung diseases, stroke, heart disease, and some autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, if you want to prevent metabolic syndrome and other diseases, you should avoid (or quit) smoking.

Avoid alcohol

While drinking a glass of wine in the evening may help you relax and forget about your stressful day at work, drinking alcohol on a regular basis can be harmful. Alcohol increases your blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and LDL cholesterol. Guidelines suggest limiting your alcohol intake to no more than three standard drinks a day if you’re a man and no more than two standard drinks a day if you’re a woman.

Take medications as advised

Sometimes healthy changes aren’t enough to treat metabolic syndrome. In such cases, additional measures may be recommended including taking medications to control your cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, or relieve coronary heart disease symptoms. 

People who have diabetes, heart disease, or high LDL cholesterol levels may need to take specific medications. If you are in one of the above risk categories (or you’re at risk of having a stroke), your doctor will tell you whether you need to start medical treatment.

It’s essential to take all medicines regularly and follow your doctor’s guidelines without changing the amount of the dose or, even worse, skipping a dose. And, even if you’re taking medications, you shouldn’t forget to make healthy choices, which are essential to alleviate the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

How do supplements help prevent metabolic syndrome?

Healthy nutrition, physical exercise, and stress reduction are essential requisites to prevent the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. You can couple them with food supplements, which can help you balance your nutrients levels in a healthy and consistent way. Using supplements brings plenty of benefits in the long-run.  But like we usually say, ask your primary health provider first before taking any supplements.

Flat Belly Burn 

Weight loss is an essential step to tackle the risks associated with metabolic syndrome. But losing weight doesn’t have to imply strict diets, which most often make you feel frustrated. Drastic food cuts can be counterproductive: you risk giving up on your diet, and you end up eating more than before.

Weight loss is a gradual process that starts with a healthy digestive system. Our Flat Belly Burn is a 100% natural supplement designed to maintain a healthy digestive tract; doing so, it prevents the formation of excess belly fat. Flat Belly Burn is made for men and women looking for a long-term, safe, and effective way to maintain a healthy weight. 

This preparation is made using naturally derived ingredients. Its formulation, rich in fiber, boosts good bacteria in your gut, improves bowel movements, removes toxins from your gut, and increases your sense of satiety. Its action is crucial to improve your digestive tract function, regulate your entire system, and promote a healthy and regular weight loss.

Acida Burn

Like Flat Belly Burn, Acida Burn is designed to help you lose weight in a consistent and natural way. Its unique formulation rich in omega-3, manganese (55% of the daily recommended intake), and fiber supports and stabilizes your digestive system.

The unique blend of ingredients (Psyllium Husk, Black Walnut, Vitamin B5, Green Tea Extract, and Advantra-Z Citrus Aurantium) is scientifically shown to promote weight loss. This preparation provides tons of additional health benefits: it removes toxins from your digestive tract, increases flora in your intestines (thus helping you absorb more nutrients), supports bones and heart health, and contributes to your sense of satiety. 

Total Blood Support

Keeping a stable and healthy blood pressure is one of the main challenges of aging. With aging, our cardiovascular system gets weaker, and we’re more likely to develop diseases like hypertension. Prevention is essential: a healthy diet, rich in fiber and low in salt, can help you control your blood pressure, and you can couple it with food supplements.

Total Blood Support is a 100% natural supplement that optimizes your endothelium function. The endothelium is the layer inside of your vessels. It expands and contracts the vessels to maintain a healthy blood flow. Our preparation supports your body’s natural ability to do so and maintains regular blood pressure levels for the long term.

Total Blood Support is a combination of natural ingredients. Niacin, or vitamin B3, takes the bad cholesterol from your vessels and brings them to the liver, where it’s broken down and expelled from the body. Vitamin C, folate, and vitamins B6 and B12 foster nitric oxide production, which relaxes your blood vessels and helps them expand and contract effortlessly. 

Taking Total Blod Support assures a long-term regulation of your blood pressure levels, supports your cardiovascular health, and increases your energy levels and overall well-being.

Multivitamins

Studies show that taking multivitamins has plenty of benefits. Along with supporting the immune system and helping the organism meet its nutrients intake, multivitamins play an essential role in reducing cardiovascular disease risk. 

Our ASN over 40 multivitamin is designed for men and women over 40 and provides a boost of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, D, E, niacin, and folic acid. These nutrients play a vital role in keeping your overall health at an optimal level. Such vitamins and minerals support your eye health, improve your immune system response, support your bones, regulate your sugar levels, and reduce your cardiovascular disease. 

Thanks to unique rapid absorption technology, your body can fully and immediately benefit from the vitamins and minerals packed into each capsule.

A combination of healthy practices to prevent metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome isn’t a disease but a combination of different conditions that may increase your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. To prevent it, you should regularly check your blood sugars and your lipid profile (total cholesterol, HDL and LDL, and triglycerides), monitor your blood pressure, and control weight. It’s important to take metabolic syndrome seriously and, if you suspect you have it, to consult a doctor.

Metabolic syndrome diagnosis happens when you have three of the five symptoms associated with it:

  • low HDL cholesterol levels

  • high blood sugar

  • fat excess in your waist

  • high blood pressure

  • high triglyceride levels

Treatment includes adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise, and healthy practices (like quitting smoking or avoiding alcohol). Supplements are a powerful ally to reduce weight and control your blood pressure naturally and healthily; you can couple them with a balanced, moderate diet and aerobic activities or mild gymnastics.