Metabolic Syndrome: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
I’m going to break down the good, the bad, the ugly of metabolic syndrome. But first...
What the heck is metabolic syndrome?
Glad you asked...its a term that medical professionals coined about 90 years ago although it really wasn’t a publicly used term until the 80s and much more recently within the last decade did it start to really become a more widely used terminology.
Metabolic syndrome is the coexistence of several health conditions that increase the risk for insulin resistance, heart disease, and strokes. These health conditions include high blood pressure, high blood glucose (blood sugar), high total cholesterol, high triglycerides, and excess visceral fat (fat around your organs/abdomen).
Just because you have 1 of these conditions doesn’t mean you have metabolic syndrome, it does, however, elevate your risk for developing other health conditions. Any one of those conditions can cause chronic inflammation within your body which as I’ve written about before (read that article here) it may lead to more diseases or conditions.
Sounds bad enough right? It gets worse...
Let’s talk about risk factors, the ugly part none of us want to acknowledge:
Age - over the age of 45 is shown to elevate risk, however, the growing obesity epidemic in youth is also growing metabolic syndrome in children and teens
Race - Hispanics and Blacks (non-Hispanic) are at the greatest risk for developing metabolic disease, with whites not too far behind
Lifestyle - limited physical activity is linked to obesity which is linked to excess visceral fat
Obesity - clinically defined as a body mass index of >30 or higher (read what I think about BMI here)
Diabetes - if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, additionally if you developed gestational diabetes you are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome
Other Conditions linked to Metabolic Syndrome - polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and sleep apnea
The good news...
In as little as 3 changes to lifestyle you can lower the risk of developing metabolic syndrome...we can’t change our genetics, age, or race, but we have control over our nutrition and physical activity:
Aim to get at least 20 minutes of physical activity every day (walking the neighborhood is perfect!)
Eat a diet low in ultra-processed foods
Eat vegetables and proteins first before carbs
Two of those are part of my Eating Best Practices. You can access my totally free course on my top Eating Best Practices here and start improving your overall wellness and keep your risk lower for developing this and other conditions.