You may have heard the term metabolic syndrome in the news, but do you know what it actually is, or why you should be concerned about it?
Sometimes referred to as Syndrome X, or Insulin Resistance Syndrome, it is currently estimated that around 30% of the adult population of America has metabolic syndrome. The good news is that it can not only be prevented, but even reversed by following a metabolic syndrome diet plan.
This article will discuss what metabolic syndrome is, and what you should know when starting a metabolic syndrome diet.
What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
The word “metabolic” in this case refers to the body’s biochemical processes and their involvement in the daily functioning of your body. This disorder is one pertaining to the utilization and storage of energy in the body. The term Metabolic Syndrome does not refer to a disease, but rather to a cluster of risk factors.
While having one factor may not present many health issues, having multiple factors can lead to some very serious health risks. A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome can be made if there are three or more risk factors at the same time.
These are the guidelines to make a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome as set by the American Heart Association:
- High levels of Triglycerides – Equal to or greater than 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L)
- Reduced “good” HDL cholesterol: Women – Less than 50 mg/dL (1.29 mmol/L). Men – Less than 40 mg/dL (1.03 mmol/L)
- Elevated waist circumference: Women – greater than 35 inches (88 cm). Men – greater than 40 inches (102 cm)
- Elevated fasting glucose – Equal to or greater than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or use of medicine for hyperglycemia
- High blood pressure – Equal to or greater than 130/85 mm Hg or use of medicine for hypertension
What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?
Currently, the exact causes are unknown, but the development of metabolic syndrome appears to be influenced by lifestyle factors like daily diet, activity level, and stress. Recent data suggests the consumption of foods containing high fructose corn syrups (HFCS) may play a role in the development metabolic syndrome.
There has also been acknowledgment in the medical community that there are also some genetic factors that causes some individuals to be predisposed to developing metabolic syndrome.
Potential Health Problems
The combination of these factors has been found to cause an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease, leading to stroke, heart attack or heart failure. Metabolic syndrome can also increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by up to five times.
Just because you have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome doesn’t mean that you are destined to deal with it for the rest of your life. It can be managed, and even reversed by making changes to your daily diet and by making a few adjustments to your lifestyle.
What Is The Best Diet For Metabolic Syndrome?
The best diet for metabolic syndrome is a diet that you are comfortable following for the rest of your life. When starting a metabolic syndrome diet, please keep in mind that you can start by making only small changes to your normal diet and still have a big impact on your health.
While there have been many diets touted as being the best diet for metabolic syndrome, the overall components of most of these plans are the same. Here are a few traits that are found in each of them:
- Emphasis on fruits and vegetables
- Low in saturated fats
- High in fiber
- Avoid foods with added sugars
- Limit alcohol
- Choose lean proteins
When looking at different metabolic syndrome diet plans there are a few that are worth mentioning. There are data that suggest that the diets presented below can prevent and be used in the treatment of this syndrome.
The Mediterranean Diet
Previous research has shown that the Mediterranean diet can help prevent heart disease. A Mediterranean style diet is filled with colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fats such as olive oil, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins such as fish or chicken. This style of diet is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds as well as antioxidants, and can be quite easy to adapt to.
It is sometimes referred to as the Prasouda diet, which you can read much more about right here.
The DASH Diet
The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet has been found to be effective in the treatment of hypertension, and has been indicated as being effective in both lowering high cholesterol and in the treatment of metabolic syndrome.
In addition to the DASH diet, there is DASH Sodium, where the daily allowance of salt is reduced down to 1,500mg per day.
Depending on your caloric needs, the DASH diet will consist of a certain number of servings from various food groups everyday. It is recommended when following the DASH diet to start slowly and incorporate these dietary changes over time rather than all at once.
Because the DASH diet is centered around servings is it is very important that you become aware of what constitutes a serving. You may find investing in a small kitchen scale very helpful for keeping track of your portions until you are more familiar with what proper portions look like.
How To Start a Metabolic Syndrome Diet
As mentioned earlier in this article, you don’t need to overhaul your diet overnight to reap the benefits of a metabolic syndrome diet plan. In fact, making big sweeping changes to your diet can sometimes be detrimental to your success. Instead, you should choose to make small sustainable changes in your diet, which over time will yield big results.
Here are a few suggested ideas for how to begin incorporating a metabolic syndrome diet plan into your daily life:
- Add one extra vegetable into your daily diet
- Replace white bread with whole wheat bread
- Eliminate one soda a day and replace it with unsweetened green tea or water
- Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil
- Make one meal a week a vegetarian meal
Of course, you should consult your physician before making any drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle. Ask your doctor what physical activities would be okay for you to engage in as well. Research has shown that a combination of diet and exercise has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of metabolic syndrome.
Use this information and take charge of your health today!