Being diagnosed with one health issue is often a concern, but when multiple specific conditions are involved, it can lead to metabolic syndrome. A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome is more common than people realize, yet it can lead to potentially life-threatening situations.
What is metabolic syndrome, and how do I know if I have it?
Unlike the common cold, which has readily identifiable symptoms such as sneezing and coughing, metabolic syndrome comprises numerous health situations, each with a set of warning signs. The health conditions, or risk factors, associated with metabolic syndrome increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.
These risk factors/health issues/disorders that make up metabolic syndrome include:
- Abdominal obesity: excess belly fat (waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women) increases the risk of heart disease.
- High blood glucose: excess blood sugar increases the risk of blood vessel damage, blood clots, and heart disease.
- High blood pressure: normal blood pressure readings are less than 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic) pressure. A continual blood pressure of 130/80 or higher can increase plaque buildup in the arteries and increase the risk of damage to the blood vessels and heart.
- High triglyceride levels: readings of over 150 mg/dL of this form of fat in the bloodstream increase the risk of elevated lower-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and heart disease.
- Low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind – the form that removes “bad” LDL cholesterol from the blood vessels.
Most of the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome don’t have obvious signs or symptoms. Other than physically seeing the increase in fat around your midsection, you may not know the other issues are present if not checked regularly.
Common Causes of Metabolic Syndrome
It is easy to assume that being overweight contributes to metabolic syndrome from reading the previous section. The more weight one carries, the greater the risk. Excess weight also increases the risk of other factors associated with metabolic syndrome.
It is not always known what causes metabolic syndrome, as a person who leads a healthy lifestyle can still develop it due to other risk factors, as discussed in the next section.
Here are the most common causes of metabolic syndrome:
- Insulin resistance/high blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- High triglyceride levels
- Low HDL cholesterol
Being overweight during pregnancy significantly increases the risk of a child developing metabolic syndrome in later years. Low birth weight in infants, along with a rapid weight gain after birth, also raises that risk.
Hormonal imbalances can also contribute to the factors associated with metabolic syndrome. Hormones play a critical role in metabolism, heart health, insulin sensitivity, and other essential functions. Human growth hormone (HGH) is a chemical messenger often associated with the causes of metabolic syndrome listed above. As its levels decline, the risk of metabolic syndrome increases.
Some people are predisposed to developing metabolic syndrome due to various risk factors that may be present in their lives. Some risk factors are controllable, while others are not.
Controllable risk factors:
- Obesity (uncontrollable risk factor if steps are not taken to lose weight)
- Sedentary lifestyle/inactivity
- Lack of sleep (crucial for hormone regulation and nutrient absorption)
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Shift work (circadian rhythm misalignment)
- Large food portions
- Unhealthy dietary choices (excess fat and sugar intake)
- Stress (raises cortisol and lowers growth hormone and testosterone levels, creating hormonal imbalance)
Uncontrollable risk factors:
- Age: risk increases with age, partly due to changes in hormone production
- Genetics: family history of diabetes, obesity, or other risk factors
- Ethnicity: African Americans (especially women), South Asians, and Mexican Americans have the highest risks
- Environment: having a lower socioeconomic status can lead to poor dietary options, inactivity, and lack of sleep
- Gender: women have a higher risk than men due to menopausal hormone changes
- Other diseases:Psoriasis: associated with immune system changes Cancer treatments: some treatments affect the immune systemPolycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): due to hormone changes that increase other risk factors
- Certain medications: including those that treat bipolar disorders, allergies, HIV, depression, and schizophrenia, may contribute to specific risk factors
Many health issues we face today are controllable by taking simple steps to improve your overall quality of life. Most people who have higher risk factors, such as being overweight, smoking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and consuming unhealthy foods, know that what they are doing is terrible for their health. Getting off that hamster wheel is not always easy, especially when work and family requirements infringe on time and finances associated with food preparation and other healthful activities.
However, even the slightest change can make a big difference in a person’s life. Each step you take reduces your risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
Here are some of the leading ways to prevent metabolic syndrome:
- Physical activity: exercise regularly for at least 150 minutes per week – aim for 4 or 5 days of activity (even walking works)
- Eat healthy: Consuming plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains while limiting saturated fat, fried foods, excess salt, and sugar is beneficial
- Healthy weight: maintain a healthy weight for your age, bone structure, and gender (lose weight if needed)
- Quit smoking: break bad habits to improve overall health
- Limit alcohol: consume no more than one regular drink per day for women or two for men
- Reduce stress: decreasing your stress can help lower your cortisol levels to improve other hormones while helping you sleep better and feel more energized
Another critical factor for preventing metabolic syndrome in adults over thirty is to check their hormone levels yearly. For instance, low HGH levels can negatively affect metabolism, blood sugar, circulation, and cholesterol levels. Find out how to get HGH pens for sale online with a doctor’s prescription.
Metabolic syndrome can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. You are also at a higher risk for osteoarthritis, gout, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and some cancers. Fertility may be at risk, as well.
Sitting for long periods is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Try to get up and move around once an hour, even if only for five or ten minutes.
Lowering your blood pressure if high and restoring cholesterol, triglyceride, and glucose levels to their normal and ideal state are crucial. Weight reduction plays a leading role in lowering metabolic syndrome risk in adults. Seek medical guidance if any of these concerns are present in your life. As you lose weight, you will find that many other factors naturally rectify themselves.
If weight loss is a goal, incorporate more fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados into your daily diet. Switch from white grains to whole grains and pasta, as they are higher in fiber for slower absorption and reduced insulin spikes.
If you suspect you have symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, it is crucial to seek the help of a hormone specialist. Hormone deficiencies can hinder your efforts to lose weight and improve your health.