5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome

In a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 19, 2015), researchers found that more than one-third of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Researchers also found the rate of metabolic syndrome increases dramatically with age – almost half of people 60 or older in the United States have metabolic syndrome, the study found.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of factors that multiply a person's risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Almost 34% of American adults are affected.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

As detailed by The Mayo Clinic, metabolic syndrome is actually a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The conditions include:

Metabolic syndrome occurs when a person has three or more of the following measurements:

  1. Abdominal obesity (Waist circumference of 40 inches or above in men, and 35 inches or above in women)
  2. Triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater
  3. HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women
  4. Systolic blood pressure (top number) of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater, or diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 85 mm Hg or greater
  5. Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome

The two largest contributors to metabolic syndrome conditions are obesity and inactivity.

The two most important risk factors are extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body, and insulin resistance. Various lifestyle changes can reduce these risks. Here are a few:

  1. Be Active - Finding ways to stay active is important – sitting or lying down for prolonged periods slows the metabolism and decreases the effectiveness of insulin. Already incorporating movement into your routine? Don’t forget to make the most of your workout time!

  2. Limit simple carbs - Simple carbohydrates are typically processed carbs, such as starches, liquid carbohydrates, and foods made of refined flours; Think breads, pastas, muffins, cereals, cake, chips, cookies, beer, wine, fruit juice, soda, corn, potatoes, and rice. Limit and avoid consumption of the above items.

  3. Avoid Sugary - Sugar is hiding in many processed foods. Skipping sugary beverages are a small change you can make to kick off big change.

  4. Remove artificial ingredients - Artificial sugars can be found in just about any grocery store shelf item, from chewing gum and cookies to sports drinks and soda. Typically the products are marked as “sugar-free,” or “diet.” While reducing calories can result in weight loss, popular weight loss programs and products that rely on calorie counting miss the point of trying to improve overall health. The body is an intricately complex and responsive to even the smallest changes.

  5. Manage stress - You’ve probably heard cortisol referred to as the “stress hormone.” Your adrenal glands, perched right atop your kidneys, make cortisol in an attempt to help your body handle stressful situations. And while a little spike of cortisol is good in response to short-term stressors, it starts to become a problem when the body starts making too much, too often. High cortisol is an overreaction to chronic stress. If you’re used to spending your days worrying, overworking, or just generally freaking out, your adrenals try to help out by hitting you with frequent doses of fight-or-flight energy. Many of your body’s normal processes can get interrupted by these bursts—they’re placed on the back-burner while you tend to your “dangerous” situation. This can lead to a number of unhealthy issues.

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome

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