I don't think before I started a ketogenic diet that I had heard my doctor say anything about metabolic syndrome even though I had to have at least 3-4 of the known risk factors.
I think due to being overweight my doctor just gave me enough care to get me out the door in many cases. This is most definitely a scary thing to learn about after you have a child and plan to be around for years to come!
What is Metabolic Syndrome? Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of conditions from increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Metabolic syndrome is tied to these occurring together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Now that we understand the basics of metabolic syndrome we can dig into the other factors which weigh heavily into how you get it and how you can fix it. Metabolic syndrome isn't incurable and you can take control starting today if you want to start getting healthy and extending your longevity.
Having a diet which increases triglycerides in the body along with lowering the overall HDL level plays a large part in laying a base for metabolic syndrome. Then having issues with high blood sugar levels which comes from dietary intake builds on the problem.
The larger overall intake in calories in America has led to an increase in overall body fat levels, but waist fat is more specifically tied to visceral fat and not just body fat. Visceral fat is tied in a large part to the liver and management of processing of fructose and alcohol which lead to fatty liver disease.
Getting metabolic syndrome isn't like getting the flu, it is a long road to end up with it. It requires a poor diet and a sedentary life, both things that we as Americans have put ourselves on a pedestal for. We need to re-evaluate all dietary choices and we need to get out in the sun and play.
Having one of the below risk factors does not mean that you have or don't have metabolic syndrome. Though having one will increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
Having three or more of these factors will result in a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome and it will increase your risk of health complications.
Currently, the American Heart Association puts the number of adults with Metabolic Syndrome in the vicinity of 23-24%. This has to change or society will collapse under the burden of paying for all these oncoming medical needs.
The older I get the more I hear about the dangers of high blood pressure. When you consume a standard american diet (SAD) you more than likely over-consume salt. It is quite easy when the market is full of processed foods that are loaded with sodium to maintain taste and shelf life.
This will lead to you having a higher sodium value overall which can increase overall blood pressure.
On a ketogenic diet though you don't keep this extra volume of water and sodium, you will NEED to consume sodium to keep your blood pressure consistent. Just switching to a ketogenic diet should start you on the path to lower your blood pressure in the first week.
Our bodies are built to function with a very small amount of overall blood sugar. When this number goes sky high, like after an Standard American Diet meal, your body goes into overdrive with insulin attempting to lower this blood sugar number as it causes inflammation throughout your body and blood vessels.
With the inflammation to the blood vessels your body needs to repair the damage, your body uses cholesterol to patch these damaged sections and to start the repair. This is a primary reason why cholesterol is located at the sites of heart attacks, it was working to fix the problem.
Below is a cool saying that makes this more easy to understand:
When a fire starts the firemen respond to put out the fire. Since there is always firemen at fires, does this mean they are the cause?
This is how cholesterol has been demonized by medicine, pharmaceutical companies and the media. The reason we focus so heavily on LDL cholesterol is that they found a pill which can change that number, not because it has shown ANY benefit to heart disease.
This is that belly that over time everyone starts to grow. This storage is typically due to the liver and body being overwhelmed by overall high blood sugar levels.
This makes it imperative to store everything body fat and a lot of the visceral fat which is primarily stored around your mid-section. This is what leads to that "spare tire" people joke about as you age.
Your level of triglycerides is tied very close to your carbohydrate intake as you body converts them from simple sugars to storage based fats.
This is why when you start a ketogenic diet your triglyceride levels tend to drop amazingly fast as you aren't providing fuel to the fire anymore to raise this value.
HDL cholesterol comes from saturated fats in greater numbers than from other sources. When you increase your healthy fats intake you will see this number grow rapidly, other poor quality fats like rapeseed, soybean and others will cause this number to drop significantly.
You must speak with your physician to diagnose metabolic syndrome. They will need to perform several different tests looking at specific risk factors. The results of these tests will be used to look for three or more signs of the disorder.
The tests target the specified risk factors above to look for abnormal results. These tests if they should return with abnormalities within at least three of the risk factors above will indicate the presence of metabolic syndrome.
There is a good article on PubMed about the complications which you should take the time to read and understand. It may be a little bit dry so I did my best to summarize the contained information below in a normal human manner to help digest in the below 2 sections.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors for coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes which includes obesity, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia.
The diagnosis of metabolic syndrome itself appears to be an important risk factor for atherogenic CVD and diabetes, and there is recent evidence that its components cluster, rather than occurring together by coincidence.
Immediate attention to the underlying risk factors of abdominal obesity, physical inactivity, and diet are necessary for all patients with metabolic syndrome.
It does go on to speak about drug interventions, I would expect statins, for "dangerous" heart conditions. That is something that you should speak to your physician on.
Don't just accept there beliefs though, ask them to show you where the benefits are and why you couldn't just fix a "high cholesterol" number through diet alone.
Start today, remove a large amount of carbohydrates from your diet to remove the blood sugar spiking and body defense and storage. Then begin the change to incorporating movement into your day to get the blood moving and your body starting to utilize resources it ingests.
Once you can remove enough carbohydrates and increase activity in your day you will start to feel better, if you want this would be where you start exploring exercise to find something you enjoy, like swimming, biking, running, or other activity.
Many people seem to believe this is always "the gym" and that is why they have issues, they don't find a passion for a specific activity.
Once you dial in your diet to a ketogenic diet or similar diet where you remove the man made junk foods and you include activity you will be well on your way to starting a resolution to your issues.
Don't just take my word from it, listen in to Dr Ken Berry who explains what it is and if it is curable.
Start repairing your diet and movement lifestyle. This doesn't mean you need to make drastic changes overall but subtle modifications over weeks to years if that is what you need.
Start today by removing toast from breakfast, then instead of sitting at a desk all day, when a break or lunch comes, go take a walk outside in the daylight.
Getting outside will help increase vitamin D from the sun exposure, enjoy the sounds and hopefully the less gadget time in the walk the better. Take in your surroundings and learn to enjoy the now again.
If you are in a downtown area for work like myself, I bring my phone to start music from Spotify and the phone then stays in my pocket the entire trip.
Keep making these minor changes to lower the overall carbohydrate intake and getting some basic movement time in will help keep you in better condition to ensure you don't gain metabolic syndrome.
Take the time now to learn about being healthy, not the AHA model, not anyone elses' model. Find the diet and methods which work for you. While I love and believe a ketogenic diet can suit anyone, find what you can do and maintain a lifetime.
Just make sure that the diet you decide on doesn't impact your longevity and health. I want to be here as long as I can to experience new places and excitement of watching my daughter grow up and become an amazing woman.
I experienced losing my father to a heart problem before I truly had enough time to learn and interact with him as an adult and I would hate for my daughter to go through that same problem.
As always please share to anyone you think may have the symptoms of metabolic syndrome in your life and comment below if this has helped you in any way. If I am wrong please let me know so that I can help the next person with even more information!
If you are looking for some good options for at home based workouts for your cardio then I can provide some of the best options I have found:
I was searching around by my house to find quality grass fed beef along with heritage pork as I love the taste. Unfortunately farmers markets failed me and I found ButcherBox.
It is now almost 3 years later and I still receive my ButcherBox monthly and I get a mix of all three items but have added bacon and sausage into each additionally to give me a strong pork option that is from heritage hogs.