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Metabolic Syndrome

The combination of genetic background together with food excess and lack of exercise has become the cornerstone of metabolic disorders associated to lifestyle.

Metabolic syndrome is a disorder of energy use and storage. This syndrome is characterised by obesity, high blood fat levels, raised blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. Patients with metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

For a person to be diagnosed Metabolic Syndrome they must have at least 3 of the following criteria:

  • Obesity: A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above, or a large waistline (greater than 90 cm in men or 80 cm in women/population specific)

  • Elevated blood triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood): Above or equal to 1.7mmol/L

  • Low HDL (good) cholesterol: Below 1mmol/L in men or 1.3mmol/L in women

  • High blood pressure: 130 mmHg or above (systolic pressure), or 85 mmHg or above (diastolic pressure), or previously diagnosed hypertension that requires medication

  • Elevated blood sugar: A fasting plasma glucose level of more than > 5.5 mmol/L or above, or taking diabetes medications.

Insulin resistance may be a cause of metabolic syndrome

Insulin is released from your pancreas to your bloodstream in response to rising glucose (sugar) levels. After you eat a meal, any starches you have ingested are broken down into glucose and passed to your blood. The pancreas detects this rise and starts to release the hormone.

Chronic high levels of sugar due to an increased intake of carbohydrates or genetic predisposition develop “insulin resistance”. In simple terms, our body can compensate increased sugar levels by increasing insulin levels up to a point. High insulin levels then become less effective in down regulating blood sugar levels and this is named: “insulin resistance”.

Higher doses of insulin are then developed to overcome resistance. Unfortunately, the combination of both high insulin levels and resistance promote hypertension, clogging of arteries (atherogenesis) and obesity leading to cardiovascular disease.

Unfortunately, high insulin levels also promotes weight gain independently and this becomes a vicious cycle.

How can you lower your sugar and insulin levels

A good approach to lower both agents is by limiting your caloric intake, more specifically your processed/simple starch carbohydrate intake. This can be done either continuously or via intermittent fasting.

Another effective method is by stimulating insulin clearance by exercising.

A more drastic approach is bariatric surgery

So next time you or your doctor trivialise a slight increase of sugar levels please analyse the data properly and consider you are most likely already showing evidence of high insulin levels.

The overall outcome include obesity, arterial linen damage, potential contribution to cancer development, worsening of cognitive functions and decreased lifespan.

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