Updated: Feb 2
Many people don't know they have it, and even more don't know how easy it can be to return to good health
Metabolic Syndrome, also known as "Syndrome X", is when someone has a group of metabolic disorders that raise the chances of developing stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The syndrome is diagnosed when a person has three or more of the following conditions:
Abdominal obesity (waist circumference of greater than 40 inches in men, and greater than 35 inches in women)
Triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater
HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women
Systolic blood pressure (top number) of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater, or diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 85 mm Hg or greater
Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater
In data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, (NHANES), one in three adults aged 20 years or over has metabolic syndrome. That's an estimated 47 million Americans!
The syndrome is a very serious condition to have, and the implications for future health issues are real. Most concerning is that most of the conditions cause no symptoms, so many people are unaware of their increased risk.
The good news, however, is that it can be reversed-- and faster than you may think. Exercise is an important piece, but the critical changes involve food. The following three changes in diet will make a dramatic difference in health:
Decrease processed sugars
Decrease processed carbohydrates
Decrease vegetable/seed oils
Behavioral modifications like increasing exercise and eliminating overeating are important steps as well, and adding in healthy foods is equally important for optimal health. But decreasing the above foods can create a quick impact.
Processed sugar has been added to nearly every packaged food. What's the amount you should be targeting each day? The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men. I recommend taking three days and count your gram intake. You'll likely be shocked at how quickly it adds up.
A study by Robert Lustig, MD at the University of California San Francisco showed that completely cutting processed sugar from a group of kids' diets for nine days resulted in lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. NINE DAYS to decrease the risk of serious health diseases. That's fast work.
Processed carbohydrates convert to sugar in the body. This is one reason bread and crackers have gotten a bad reputation. The grains that these products are made from are not necessarily the issue. It's the processing that turns them into refined starches. Choose whole grains and limit them to one or two servings per day. Processed carbs also include sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices, pastries, pasta, and white rice.
Vegetable and seed oils (also known as canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower) are high in omega-6, inflammatory, polyunsaturated fats. Given that they're in nearly all processed foods, they compose too large a part of our diet.
Mark Hyman, MD, the Director of the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, states that "Omega 6 fats not only fuel your body’s inflammatory pathways, but also reduce the availability of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats in your tissues, resulting in more inflammation."
Furthermore, Dr. Joseph Hibbeln from the National Institutes of Health has researched the impact of over-consuming omega 6 fats and concluded that it significantly increases metabolic syndrome, among many other disorders.
So What Oils Should You Eat?
Sustainably-sourced Palm Oil
Lard and/or Tallow
These are all safe for cooking, at varying degrees, and in moderation are a healthy component of a complete diet.
I encourage you to visit your doctor and know your risk profile. And if you have metabolic syndrome, also know that it's not an irreversible condition. With modified behaviors and smart food choices, you can quickly reset your health.
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