What is Metabolic Syndrome and why should I be concerned?
Have you been diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome? Do you know what the criteria are? Maybe you are having trouble losing weight despite exercising and eating well. Here at Navigator, I can help guide you to the best nutritional choices for you, come up with an exercise and activity plan and offer you guidance for supplements so that you can get off your medications and get healthy!
Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X affects a third to more than half of the US population! It is associated with increased fat deposition, especially around the waist, as the body can’t properly metabolize sugars. The underlying issue is insulin resistance – insulin is a major metabolic hormone that regulates the conversion of sugar into fats and vice versa. In addition to insulin, there are other mechanisms that allow cells (especially muscle cells) to grab glucose to burn it for fuel. If we can’t burn sugar, then we burn fat and that leads to increase in free radicals. In addition, insulin levels rise in response to the extra glucose in the blood and causes many of the secondary effects of Syndrome X.
Some of these harmful conditions include:
Fatty liver disease
Increased cortisol levels
Inflammation and tissue damage
There are specific criteria that your doctor will use to make the diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome, however, I am finding that several my clients have a mild form of this condition with borderline labs and just mild weight gain around the middle. They have tried exercising and watch what they eat, but the weight won’t come off. I believe that Syndrome X is to blame, as the body shifts its priorities to conserve glucose and store it as fat!
These are the official diagnostic criteria:
Waist line measurements for
Women > 35 inches
Men > 40 inches
Fasting blood glucose > 100
Serum triglycerides > 150 ng/dl
Blood pressure > 135/85
Women < 50
Men < 40
What can you do about this? We all know that we should be eating better, moving more and reducing our stress – but HOW? If your doctor has been wagging his/her finger at you, but not working with you to chart a course that you can follow, come see me. We can work on a plan to motivate you and find foods that you like and an exercise routine that is fun and maintainable in the long-run.
As far as nutrition is concerned, the Mediterranean Diet is most closely aligned with the parameters to get you to lose weight and correct the abnormalities in your labs.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals
Helps to avoid the peaks of sugar and the insulin chasing it
Aim for low Glycemic index foods
Break down slowly for balanced energy
Eat protein before carbs
Slows metabolism and absorption of sugars
Reduce animal protein
Choose fish over chicken and red meat
Try other fowl besides chicken
Experiment with game meats rather than beef
Increase nuts and olive oil
Vegetables are going to be the mainstay or your meals
Steam rather than boil to maintain nutritional value
“Eat the Rainbow”
Artificial sweeteners are particularly bad because they trick the body into thinking that it has eaten less than you did! Studies show that people who drink diet soda eat more calories than those who drink full sugar sodas. They also are toxic to the healthy bacteria in our gut, worsening our metabolic state. What else is needed to help our body reset its metabolism and burn sugars so that we can be slimmer, healthier and avoid the inflammation associated with Syndrome X? Here are some of the lifestyle changes that are important to implement on our journey to health: Sleep
Sleep is critical to losing weight! Wait, shouldn’t we just keep moving and never sleep? Our body needs 7-9 hours of deep sleep to reset our metabolism and recharge our batteries. If we don’t get enough sleep, we go into crisis mode, our cortisol levels rise and we defensively prepare for starvation by holding on to energy and storing it as fat. See your Navigator's guide to getting a good night’s sleep on the website. Some people who are overweight or obese will have obstructive sleep apnea. If you awaken with a jolt frequently during the night, short of breath or your partner notices pauses in your breathing, seek help with a specialist as this can be dangerous for your overall health.
I know this seems so obvious, but what kind of exercise should you pursue? Studies show that interval training works the best. By alternating brief (30-60 second) bursts of maximal effort with low intensity activity over 20 minutes or so you get maximum benefit. This method causes the cells to be more susceptible to insulin’s actions and stimulates other glucose transit pathways so that the muscles can burn glucose. Weight training also contributes to weight loss, because as the muscle mass increases our basal metabolic rate goes up and we continue to burn calories long after we stop working out. I favor lower weights with higher repetitions with perfect form. This promotes long and lean muscles and reduces the stress on our joints.
This is a pillar of Functional Medicine and indeed your Navigator focuses on this with all clients. Cortisol is an amazing hormone that kicks us into high gear, releasing adrenaline and insulin, and increasing glucose levels so we can run away from lions and tigers! However, when we are safely out of harm’s way, our body naturally stops release of cortisol and we calm down to rest and prepare the body for any further stressors. When we are chronically stressed and we release cortisol in higher amounts throughout the day, we are putting ourselves at risk for Metabolic Syndrome.
Here is what the experts are saying with regards to supplements that you should consider taking if you have Metabolic Syndrome. Please compare this list to what your MVI has so that you are not taking too much of any one or more elements or vitamins – although the FDA recommendations are far from what you really need. Come see your Navigator for more information on how to get what you need to address this spreading pandemic! Some of these doses are educated estimates because there is little definitive research on exactly how much is best. Vitamins
B6 100 mg
B12 500 mg
Folate (methylated) 500 mg
C 2 grams
D at least 2 grams, most of us need more
E 800 IU
Biotin 3gm 3 times a day
Chromium 1,000 mg
Magnesium 2,000 mg
Manganese 10 mg
Vanadium 40 mg
Zinc 20 mg
CoQ10 200 mg
Acetyl L-Carnitine 2 grams
Ginseng 200 mg
EGCG (green tea extract) 270 mg
Milk Thistle 500 mg
ALA fatty acids 500 mg
CLA 2 grams
Taurine 2 grams
Breaks down body fat
Decreases blood sugar
Ayurveda concepts for weight loss can be quite complex and would require a full evaluation and treatment plan from a fully trained practitioner. Simplification of the Ayurveda concept of fat imbalance is that the Kapha humor (which is dense, heavy and slow and cold in nature) is aggravated and blocked. Treatments focus on eliminating certain foods from the diet, which we have talked about above and to increase hydration and warmth. We can do this simply by drinking hot or warm water instead of cold and to add honey, lime juice, black pepper powder and Ayurveda Teas.