I recently attended The Metabolic Syndrome Update held at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Center. A gathering of Doctors, Nurses, Diabetes experts and Dietitians. An appropriate mix of professionals that demonstrate the importance of a "team approach" to fight Metabolic Syndrome.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Also, called Syndrome X, Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of conditions that raise your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke. It can result in problems such as Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Sleep Apnea, and low energy levels.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) it is diagnosed when 3 or more of the following are present:
- Excess stomach fat. Get out your tape measure! If your waist is more than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women, you are at risk!
- High Blood Pressure- higher than 130/85
- High Triglycerides- greater than 150mg/dL
- Low HDL Cholesterol- less than 40mg/dL for men and less than 50mg/DL for women. This is your "good" cholesterol. HDL helps to remove "bad" cholesterol from your arteries, so the higher the better!
- Elevated Fasting Blood Glucose- greater than 100mg/dL. This is the amount of sugar in your blood when drawn in a fasting state meaning you have not eaten in at least 12 hours before the blood is drawn. All of the above labs are routinely checked at yearly doctor's visit. Check your records. It's important that you know your numbers!
6 Diet and Lifestyle Changes that can Treat or Prevent Metabolic Syndrome
#1 Practice Mindful Eating
Do you sit down at a table to eat or do you "graze" throughout the day? Do you find yourself eating when you're stressed or bored when you're not truly hungry? Were you raised to "clean your plate"? Check in with yourself before you eat to make sure that you are eating for the right reasons. Practice eating only when you're hungry and stop when you are SATISFIED not when you are FULL!
#2 Reduce Sugar and Refined Grains
Sugar can be hidden in a lot different names. Read the ingredient labels and look for sugars under the following names!
- corn syrup, rice syrup, golden syrup, malt syrup
#3 Increase Fiber
Choose whole grains, fresh fruit, and lots of non-starchy vegetables. Add some beans to your salad along with a rainbow of color with a large variety of vegetables instead of just lettuce. Think pepper strips, radish, sugar snap peas, carrots and jicama! Bean and lentil based pastas add a hefty dose of fiber and can easily replace your traditional white pasta.
#4 Reduce Saturated Fat in exchange for healthier fats
Limit red meat and full fat dairy. Choose salmon, trout, or herring for healthy omega 3 fats. Limit fats that are solid at room temperature such as butter and coconut oil and instead use oils like olive, canola, and avocado oil for cooking. Include flaxseed oil in a homemade salad dressing for a boost of plant based omega-3 fats!
#5 Reduce Salt
The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) recommends a maximum of 2300 mg of sodium per day. When you read food labels, you may be surprised at just how much sodium some processed foods contain! Use fresh or dried herbs to season food and take the salt shaker off the table. Rinse canned foods such as beans to remove some of the sodium. Buy foods labeled "no salt added" or "low sodium", but always read the label.
#6 Get Moving and Prioritize Sleep
Aerobic exercise is the best way to combat metabolic syndrome. Get a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week. That's at least 20 minutes a day of brisk walking, running, biking, tennis, or stairs. Find an activity you enjoy so it doesn't feel like a chore!
The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of UNINTERRUPTED sleep. Research conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute showed that sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep increased the risk for anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
It's never too late to start moving, eating right, and taking care of yourself. Let me help you improve your health!