If your waistline keeps expanding, you may be at risk for, or maybe already have, a condition known as Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a clustering of risk factors that have far-reaching devastating effects on your health including, increasing your chances of having a heart attack, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, poly cystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, and Alzheimer’s. Belly fat (visceral adipose tissue) is one of the hallmark signs of metabolic syndrome.
A pre-diabetic state (too much insulin) is its physiological root cause. Insulin causes fat to be stored in dangerous areas, such as deep in the abdomen, around the liver and heart tissues. Metabolic Syndrome is characterized by having at least three of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal fat– waist 40” or larger (men), 35″ or larger (women)
- Increased blood pressure- >130/85 mmHg or use of antihypertensive medication
- High blood sugar levels- Fasting >110 mg/dL
- High triglycerides- >150 mg/dL or taking insulin, or using medication for blood sugar
- Low HDL “good” cholesterol – <40 mg/dL men, <50mg/dL women
One in 4 Americans are affected. What is causing such drastic (and rising) statistics? In essence, our environment and lifestyles have evolved too rapidly for our bodies to keep pace with the changes. We are still genetically “wired” to thrive on unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods, and sustained greater levels of activity. In contrast, plainly stated, we eat too much, we eat the wrong foods and move too little!
Genetics (such as a family history of diabetes) can play a role. In most cases, however, people develop the condition solely through poor lifestyle habits (high stress, high-calorie/low-nutrition diet, and sedentary living). The great news is that, either way, metabolic syndrome is preventable, and reversible! In addition, lifestyle can trump genetics. So, in spite of genetic predisposition, there are things you can do.
It may sound like common sense advice, but to prevent and/or reverse metabolic syndrome, you need to exercise (including resistance training), eat a portion-controlled diet comprised of mostly unrefined foods (including healthy fats), and keep your stress levels in check. Lifestyle change should always be considered the first line of therapy. The emerging growing field of “lifestyle medicine” is perhaps the best evidence that lifestyle changes (exercise, diet and stress management) can be clinically effective. We offer First Line Therapy a 12 week therapeutic lifestyle program.
So, if your waistline is expanding, keep in mind that this maybe an important sign of declining health. Be proactive about preventing and/or reversing disease, as well as optimizing vitality with therapeutic lifestyle changes (exercise, nutrition and stress management). Best part, there are NO side effects to these lifestyle changes- other than better health and more energy.