Many of us would love to have a crystal ball that could tell us about the future of our health and how we could avoid potential dangers ahead. No one wants to take a lot of medications or feel sick as we get older. The good news is, there is a crystal ball of sorts that can inform us about our risk outlook of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke called metabolic syndrome.
What do a large waistline, high triglycerides levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar levels have in common? These are risk factors that can be present individually, but when they happen together, can predict challenging future health related complications. When three or more of them come together, they become a medical condition known as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is incredibly common and affects 1 in 3 adults in the United States.
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome can serve as a crystal ball into our health and help predict a future of serious illness and or conditions. If you have 3 or more of the following risk factors, you have metabolic syndrome:
- A large waist size, for females a waist circumference of 35 inches or more and males with 40 inches or more qualify
- High triglyceride levels more than 150 mg/dL
- Low HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels of less than 50 mg/dL for females or less than 40 mg/dL for males
- Blood pressure of 130 systolic or greater or 85 diastolic or greater
- Fasting blood sugar levels of more than 100 mg/dL
While being overweight and inactive are closely linked to metabolic syndrome, there are other factors that raise your risk as well.
- The risk of metabolic syndrome increases as we move into middle age
- Some races, including Hispanics and Asians seem to be at greater risk of metabolic syndrome
- Carrying too much weight, especially having an apple shaped body
- Diabetes during pregnancy or a strong family history of type 2 diabetes increases risk
- A history of heart disease, fatty liver disease, or polycystic ovary syndrome are all associated with metabolic syndrome
Reversing metabolic syndrome with lifestyle changes
Metabolic syndrome can be the wake-up call needed to address your health before more serious complications arise. The good news is that many lifestyle changes can help to prevent and or even reverse metabolic syndrome.
- Get moving.
- Eat healthy.
- Lose weight.
- Improve your sleep.
Whether it’s a walk in the park or heading to the gym. Do something and do it regularly. 30 minutes a day is recommended for everyone. If you have a busy schedule, try doing exercises in 10-minute intervals several times a day, five days a week. Doing enough cardio does not mean you should be ditching the weights or strength training. One study found that an increase in muscular strength correlates with a decrease in metabolic syndrome risk.
Limit unhealthy fats and emphasize fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains. Avoid refined foods with sugar and white flour and foods high in fat. Studies show that just one can of sugar soda a day can increase your risk of metabolic syndrome by 34 percent. Skimping on calcium in your diet makes you 1.5 times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, according to a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Obesity and being overweight are major contributors to metabolic syndrome. The goal is a body mass index or BMI below 25.
A study in the journal SLEEP found that sleeping fewer than six hours increased risk by 45 percent. So did sleeping more than eight hours.
You are the key to getting healthy. If your results are not in the desired range or you have further questions, please contact your health care provider for more information and to determine whether additional tests or treatment are necessary.
How eHealthScreenings can alert to metabolic syndrome risks
Standard eHealthScreenings reporting includes a metabolic syndrome analysis for both screened participants and aggregately for the entire company. The reports are essential for setting goals and making informed decisions about company health and wellness initiatives. On an individual level, these reports provide your people with the content they need to assess their lifestyle and health, acknowledge risk factors, and to have a meaningful conversation with their primary care physician regarding making changes.
Testing for metabolic syndrome is included in all eHealthScreenings premium, comprehensive and signature test panels. Contact us for information on pricing and to learn more about what is included in each test panel.