Metabolic Syndrome is a health problem which is difficult to understand. It is a group of risk factors which if you have them can lead to cardiovascular disease and also Alzheimer’s. It is serious and is on the increase
Main features of metabolic syndrome are
- Insulin Resistance – a decreased ability to process glucose effectively
- High blood pressure
- Cholesterol abnormalities – high LDL, low HDL
- High blood fats
- Overweight or obese – particularly abdominal obesity
- Unhealthy body composition – high fat, low muscle
The increase in Metabolic Syndrome is likely to lead to increases in diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s which has been termed type 3 diabetes.
Insulin resistance is a key feature of Metabolic Syndrome and is caused by sharp increase in blood sugar levels. The body needs a constant level of glucose in the blood at all times for the body and brain to function. When we eat sugary foods and refined carbohydrates our blood sugar rises dramatically and the body has to respond by producing insulin to remove the excess sugar from the blood. When this happens on a regular basis the cells stop responding to insulin and blood sugar remains high. Sugar is then not taken up by the cells where it is needed. Insulin resistance in the brain can lead to cell death as it relies on sugar in the cells to function. Insulin resistance can start 20 years before symptoms of dementia appear.
Being overweight is also a risk factor for many illnesses but where in the body the fat is stored has a significant impact on health. An “apple shape” with more fat stored around the waist and internal organs is at greater risk of developing serious chronic health conditions. A healthy waist circumference should be less than 40 inches for a man and less than 35 inches for a woman.
Early identification of Metabolic Syndrome is important in order to make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes and avoid a progression to conditions such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, dementia and heart disease.
Balancing blood sugar through a low glycaemic diet should help to improve the bodies response to insulin and aid weight loss to improve body composition. Exercise will also help support these improvements by building muscle and encouraging fat burning.