Do you have metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is not a disease, but a set of risk factors that increase your chances of developing heart diseases, diabetes and strokes. Metabolic syndrome is typically characterized by a large waistline and high levels of blood pressure and blood sugar.

Types of metabolic disorders

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism refers to an underactive thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that directly control your metabolism. If this production is affected, insufficient amounts of thyroid hormones are released. This slows down your metabolism, making weight loss hard. Aside from weight gain, individuals with hypothyroidism can also battle with depression, fatigue and brittle hair and fingernails.

Cushing’s syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome is marked by the overproduction and abnormal regulation of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that help convert fat, protein, and carbohydrates into energy. According to endocrinologist Daniel J Toft, high levels of cortisol in the body are characterized by excessive weight gain – notably in the face and upper body. Cushing’s syndrome may lead to stretch marks, muscle weakness and acne.

Insulin Resistance

When carbohydrates enter the body, they are broken down into glucose. The glucose is then broken down and used for energy by the hormone insulin. When you suffer from insulin resistance, there will be high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. This will lead to an over-production of insulin, which can lead to increased hunger and Type 2 diabetes.

Am I at risk?

If your diet consists of mostly processed foods and limited physical activity, your chances of having metabolic syndrome are high. The risk factor is also determined by age. In your 40s, there’s a 20% chance, whereas in your 50s it’s 35%, and in your 60s and beyond, the risk factor increases to a 45% of developing metabolic syndrome.

If you’re prone to blood clots and inflammation and other medical conditions, it is best to have a doctor perform a blood test.

Furthermore, family history can heighten your risk of metabolic syndrome, especially if your parents or any immediate family member suffers from diabetes.

How can you treat it?

A complete lifestyle change is the only way to improve your condition.

Weight loss is crucial, as it can improve cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure. Losing 10% of your weight is enough to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Exercise is a great way to lose weight and it can also improve insulin resistance. Don’t be too hasty in trying out new exercises – if you choose a difficult workout, you may end up quitting. Exercise on a level that you’re comfortable with.

Your diet is another area that you’ll need to change. Choose a diet that’s low in saturated and trans fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A great diet to follow would be the Mediterranean diet. This diet focuses on good fats and has a healthy balance of carbohydrates and protein.

Your doctor may prescribe medication, especially if he considers your condition to be high-risk. The medication is aimed at reducing your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Aspirin might be prescribed to lower the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Regardless of whether or not your doctor has diagnosed you with metabolic syndrome, ensure that you schedule regular check-ups. Metabolic syndrome doesn’t have any symptoms, so your doctor would need to regularly check your blood for any abnormalities.

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