Anecdotally speaking, at least 30-50% of my adult patients have metabolic syndrome. Some may not even recognize that they do. This tracks with the national average statistics that states 1/3 of US adults have metabolic syndrome. So what is it exactly?
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic disorders that increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The syndrome is typically characterized by a combination of factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. You meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome if you have at least 3 of these:
High blood pressure: A blood pressure reading of 130/85 mm Hg or higher is considered high blood pressure.
High blood sugar: A fasting blood sugar level of 100 mg/dL or higher is considered high blood sugar.
Excess body fat: A waist circumference greater than 40 inches in men or 35 inches in women is considered excess body fat.
High triglyceride levels: > 150 mg/ dl (or if you're on a cholesterol lowering medication)
Low HDL cholesterol: This is the "good"cholesterol, if lower than 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women, it's considered too low.
The good news about metabolic syndrome: this condition can be vastly improved and/ or reversed with the proper lifestyle changes. For example, even a 5-10% weight loss has been found to normalize blood pressure and sugar in many people- and I've seen this for myself with my patients. It might seem overwhelming to make the necessary changes, but here are some quick tips to get started.
Integrate 6-8 servings of veggies and fruit in your diet: This one easy tip ensures you're getting in a whole food plant based diet, eating healthier, likely eating less processed food- all of which can improve metabolic syndrome
Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity: That breaks down to 30 mins/ day. Moderate intensity exercise can be power-walking, resistance training, swimming and more.
Limit daily added sugar intake to 25-30 grams or less: Monitoring the nutritional labels on foods will help guide you in achieving this goal. Note: added sugar doesn't include the natural sugar found in whole foods like fruits!
The longer you have symptoms of metabolic syndrome, the more cumulative damage is occurring to our bodies. So the best time to start working on improving those numbers is TODAY! Talk to you doctor to help develop a game plan for your health.
Cheers to health