What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that together raise your risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other serious health problems.

Mayo Clinic says, “Metabolic syndrome is closely linked to overweight or obesity and inactivity. It’s also linked to a condition called insulin resistance. Normally, your digestive system breaks down the foods you eat into sugar. In people with insulin resistance, cells don’t respond normally to insulin and glucose can’t enter the cells as easily. As a result, your blood sugar levels rise even as your body churns out more and more insulin to try to lower your blood sugar.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine says, “Most people who have metabolic syndrome already have a closely related condition called insulin resistance, which is when the body stops responding to insulin (a hormone produced in the pancreas). After the food we eat is converted into a type of sugar called glucose, insulin is what enables the glucose to enter the body’s cells and be used as energy. For someone who is insulin resistant, however, the glucose builds up in the blood, setting the stage for damage.

“A study in which 53 percent of people had metabolic syndrome at the start found that over three years, intensive lifestyle changes—mainly diet and exercise—resulted in the lowest risk of developing diabetes and the lowest risk of developing metabolic syndrome in those who didn’t have it.”

An NIH study concluded, “The incidence of metabolic syndrome is evidenced by the presence of three out of five criteria:

• larger waistline
• elevated blood pressure
• raised triglyceride levels
• reduced HDL-cholesterol
• raised fasting glycaemia (or diabetes mellitus)”

Aside from a large waist circumference, most of the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome have no symptoms.

Other Risk Factors

The following factors, identified by the Mayo Clinic, increase your chances of having metabolic syndrome:

• Age. Your risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age.
• Ethnicity. In the United States, Hispanics—especially Hispanic women—appear to be at the greatest risk of developing metabolic syndrome. The reasons for this are not entirely clear.
• Obesity. Carrying too much weight, especially in your abdomen, increases your risk of metabolic syndrome.
• Diabetes. You’re more likely to have metabolic syndrome if you had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
• Other diseases. Your risk of metabolic syndrome is higher if you’ve ever had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, or sleep apnea.

An NIH study recommended, “Lifestyle changes are the first line of treatment for metabolic syndrome…. If you already have type 2 diabetes, treatment can lower your risk of heart disease by controlling all your risk factors.” The study went on to recommend:

• A healthy eating plan
• Weight loss
• Regular exercise
• Manage stress
• Get good quality sleep

Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics recommends following “The 8 Laws of Health” (see our previous section on that topic) to prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome!

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