Metabolic syndrome is a group of chronic medical conditions that occur alongside one another. Suffering from metabolic syndrome increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Sadly, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome is on the rise. This is most likely due to the increase in junk food consumption and the modern-day sedentary lifestyle, both of which contribute to an increased risk of obesity and poor metabolic health.
What Factors Contribute to Metabolic Syndrome?
There are several contributing factors in metabolic syndrome, including:
- Central or abdominal obesity – excess fat around the waist, assessed by measuring waist circumference
- High blood pressure – when blood pressure is elevated above the optimal threshold of 120/80 mmHg
- High blood sugar levels – elevated fasting glucose levels in the blood caused by impaired glucose metabolism or insulin resistance
- High blood triglycerides – high levels of a certain type of fat in the blood, leading to increased cardiovascular risks
- Low blood high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – reduced levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in the blood
The diagnosis of metabolic syndrome can be confirmed if an individual has three of the five above factors.
Is Metabolic Syndrome Reversible?
As serious and potentially detrimental as metabolic syndrome can be, there is a silver lining. Metabolic syndrome is generally reversible with positive lifestyle and dietary changes. You can learn more about the reversibility of metabolic syndrome by reading this article here.
Here are some key strategies that can help to address the negative side effects of metabolic syndrome and potentially reverse it altogether.
A healthy and nutritious diet
Eating a healthy diet that provides adequate amounts of every essential nutrient and isn’t excessive in calories is key for reversing metabolic syndrome.
Individuals with metabolic syndrome should consume a diet that is abundant in unprocessed whole foods, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. They should limit their intake of processed foods that are high in saturated fats, refined sugars, and salt.
Regular physical activity
Staying physically active is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and reversing metabolic syndrome. The exercise recommendations for adults are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous movement, as well as at least two strength training workouts a week.
Blood sugar management
Maintaining an optimal blood glucose level is essential for reversing metabolic syndrome. There is a close link between type 2 diabetes and weight gain, both of which can contribute to disturbances in metabolism.
This might involve dietary modifications to reduce intake of foods with a high glycaemic index and monitoring blood glucose levels regularly. Some individuals, such as those with diabetes or insulin resistance, may need medications to help control their blood sugar concentration.
Effective weight management incorporates a range of positive lifestyle and dietary habits. Individuals with metabolic syndrome are often obese and just make significant changes to their exercise habits and food intake to achieve a healthier weight.
Chronic stress is thought to be a contributing factor to metabolic syndrome. Managing stress levels can help to lower blood pressure, reduce blood triglycerides, support blood glucose management, and reduce excessive appetite. In turn, it can help to reverse metabolic syndrome and promote better physical health and mental well-being.