What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic Syndrome is a condition in which a group of risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes occur together. Metabolic Syndrome is now recognised to be leading cause of the two major causes of death in our society: heart disease and cancer. These are both much more common in people with Metabolic Syndrome and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke by around 500%. If a person with Metabolic Syndrome develops cancer, it may be much more aggressive. Having Metabolic Syndrome is also a very high risk to abnormal blood sugar with most affected people eventually developing diabetes. Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome and the many conditions that are related to it most often involves improving our ability to regulate our blood sugar.
How do I know if I have Metabolic Syndrome?
You may have been diagnosed with some of the following:
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes or “Pre-diabetes” (at risk for diabetes)
• High triglycerides
• Low “good” HDL cholesterol
• Carrying extra weight around your waist or a “beer gut”
• Family history of diabetes, heart attack or stroke
While Metabolic Syndrome causes the above features of the condition, it may also be responsible for some other symptoms you may be experiencing. These other symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome include:
- Skin: Typical skin features are a darkening and roughening of skin and skin tags.
- Reproductive (female): Polycystic ovary syndrome, early puberty, absent or infrequent menstrual periods, infertility.
- Reproductive (male): Impotence, low libido, prostate problems.
- Nervous System: Depression, migraines and headaches, memory loss and dementia.
- Sleep: Snoring and sleep apnoea (stopping breathing during sleep). These can lead to fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
What causes Metabolic Syndrome?
Many factors are responsible for the initiation of Metabolic Syndrome. It is primarily due to the effects of unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as lack of exercise; poorly managed stress; and a highly processed/high sugar, nutrient-deficient diet. These factors can throw your body out of balance and you lose the ability to regulate the levels of fat and sugar in your blood. This can cause many of the other symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome, like high blood pressure and diabetes.
What can I do to reduce the risk?
Because Metabolic Syndrome is caused largely by lifestyle, there are a lot of steps can be taken to remedy the condition provided it is addressed early enough. Metabolic Syndrome that is not appropriately managed can lead to irreversible damage to your heart and arteries, kidney, liver and nervous system.
Keeping your weight under control is vital. Metabolic Syndrome usually strikes when people are overweight, or when they have extra weight carried around the waist. Fat which accumulates here (visceral adiposity) sits very close to your abdominal organs, including the liver, and makes it harder to keep bad fats out of the blood. Although people appearing slim or within what is considered normal weight may also develop Metabolic Syndrome.
Consult your GP for medical assessment and request blood tests that include the full Lipid Profile (shows all types of cholesterol/triglycerides) and Homocysteine (a factor linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease), and Hba1c (a measure of insulin resistance).
A natural approach
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the main factor protecting against Metabolic Syndrome. Regular exercise, non-smoking, a nutritious diet, and stress reduction are all important. Some diets have been shown to be much better than others for people at risk of Metabolic Syndrome, so please see your Healthcare Practitioner for dietary advice. As there is no one single diet that suits everyone, a personal assessment of your individual needs will help guide you to achieving the vitality and health you desire.
Along with a healthy diet, nutritional and herbal supplementation has been researched and shown to benefit many people.
Please resist the temptation to self prescribe supplements. As a qualified Integrative Medicine Naturopath, Dagmar is able to recommend products that are compatible with any medication you may be taking, and avoiding any unwanted side-effects. Phone the clinic on 0468 774 633 to arrange an appointment.