(WellnessPursuits.com) – Our bodies are amazing and adaptable creations of biology. Still, over 37% of all adult Americans are currently suffering from Metabolic Syndrome. What is it, what are the risk factors, and how can we mitigate our risks?
What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is defined by a group of five different health issues that may increase our risks for heart attack stroke or diabetes. Having any three of the following five conditions qualifies a person as having metabolic syndrome:
- Visceral Obesity (excess fat around the waist, more than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women)
- High blood pressure (greater than 130 systolic or 85 diastolic or on medication to control blood pressure)
- High triglyceride levels (greater than 150 mg/dl)
- Skewed cholesterol levels (HDL less than 40 mg/dl for men, 50 mg/dl for women or controlled by medication)
- High blood glucose levels (greater than 100 mg/dl when fasting or controlled by medication)
The overlap in conditions can make the metabolic syndrome serious, with the biggest potential repercussions being the development of atherosclerosis, or a buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries, and type 2 diabetes.
Sufferers are twice as likely to suffer from coronary heart disease and stroke, and they’re 1.5 times more likely to die, regardless of the cause than people with healthy metabolic systems. Some studies suggest that metabolic syndrome also increases risks for inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and lichen planus, chronic kidney disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and polycystic ovary syndrome.
What Are the Risk Factors?
While the main risk factors for metabolic syndrome are related to obesity and insulin resistance, there are other risk factors, as well. We tend to be more at risk as we age. Having a family history of metabolic syndrome might put us at greater risk, as well. Those of us who are more sedentary and don’t get enough exercise are more at risk as are women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
What You Can Do
Before making changes, especially because you may be dealing with three or more overlapping conditions, consult your healthcare provider. Some of the conditions may actually be treated with medication to keep us from getting worse and may need on-going medical supervision, even as we make changes for the better.
When trying to overcome metabolic syndrome, even small, incremental steps matter. In a perfect world, we could instantaneously change our diets and incorporate daily exercise routines. But when we are battling three to five simultaneous conditions, small, gentle, continuous incremental changes rather than radical changes may actually be the ones that stick.
So instead of starting a daily exercise regimen, simply consider moving more — even if that means walking around the house once an hour. Instead of radically changing your diet, consider modifying your comfort foods to include healthier ingredients. Whatever gets you moving down a path toward healthier goals is worthwhile.
Just don’t stagnate. Keep moving toward continuously healthier goals. Better foods and beverages, more movement, better quality and more sleep and radical self-care. Because one of the main causes of metabolic syndrome is lifestyle, we owe it to ourselves to incrementally change our lifestyles to incorporate more activity and fresh, whole foods.
Metabolic syndrome is a serious health threat that’s reached epidemic proportions. Unlike a virus or a communicable disease, we each have power and control over the conditions that make up this syndrome, and we can make small, continuous changes that might ultimately result in much better health. If you feel challenged and need help making changes, consider talking to your healthcare provider, a nutritionist, or a personal trainer for suggestions on ways to start and continue your journey toward better health.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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