By Drew Christensen, MD
That muffin top above your waistband isn’t just annoying, it’s one sign that you could have metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors for heart disease—the #1 killer in America—as well as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. It is estimated that a whopping 1 in 4 adults meets the criteria for metabolic syndrome. Many people don’t even know they have metabolic syndrome because the only visible “symptom” is belly fat.
To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you must meet 3 of the 5 criteria. If you meet 1-2 of the criteria, consider yourself warned that you’re headed for trouble, and the sooner you intervene, the better.
At Living Health MD, we can measure these criteria and guide you to reverse or prevent more serious conditions. Call our office at 928-424-4505 for an appointment.
Criteria for Metabolic Syndrome
- Expanding waistline (abdominal obesity). For men, a waist circumference greater than 40”, for women, greater than 35”.
- High Blood Pressure. Anything above 130/85.
- High triglycerides (cholesterol) – equal to or greater than 150mg/dL
- Low HDL (good cholesterol). For men – less than 40mg/dL. For women – less than 50mg/dL
- High fasting blood sugar level – greater than 100mg/dL
Metabolic syndrome creates an environment ripe for inflammation. Inflammation is a common denominator in heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disease and more. Besides the criteria above, you should also be checking for inflammation by watching another lab test called hsCRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein).
If you have metabolic syndrome, it means your body is not regulating blood sugar levels well, often referred to as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, and in turn, to heart disease and diabetes. Problems with the heart lead to problems with the brain. Once you have diabetes, your risk for developing Alzheimer’s triples.
There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news is our Standard American Diet (SAD diet) of sugar-laden, processed food is causing unprecedented levels of obesity and disease in younger and younger people every year.
What’s good for the heart is good for the brain.
The good news is you can reverse and prevent most of these problems with your diet and lifestyle choices. When you take measures to care for your heart, you’ll take care of your brain at the same time. The Rotterdam Study showed that by addressing risk factors for cardiovascular disease (which includes heart disease and stroke) 25 – 33% of dementias can be prevented.
What you can do to prevent heart disease and cognitive decline.
The things you do to prevent these conditions are the same as what you do to reverse them.
- Eat real, whole, fresh, mostly plant-based foods. This includes vegetables – lots of them, fruit, nuts & seeds, beans, healthy fats like olive oil and avocados, and lean, organic, grass-fed meats.
- Stop eating processed, packaged fake food, and anything you get in a drive through. These “foods” are the source of our sugar overload, not to mention toxic chemicals, preservatives and oils.
- Start moving! Regular exercise does wonders for all body systems. And start a regular habit of getting up at least every
hour to stretch and move for a couple of minutes during your workday.
- Sleep 7-8 hours every night as consistently as possible.
- Avoid toxins like BPA from canned food containers, phthalates in plastic, pesticides, mercury, and lead. Don’t eat or drink from plastic containers or heat food in a microwave in plastic. Store food and water in glass containers as much as possible.
- Manage stress. Employ techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, prayer, massage, soothing music to find some peace and calm each day.
At Living Health MD we give you the guidance and tools you need to create health and live a vibrant life. When you are intentional and committed to living a healthy life you are on track to enjoy vitality well into your 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and beyond. Come see us today!
Living Health MD, 928-424-4505
1280 S. 20th Avenue, Safford, AZ 85546.