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What is metabolic syndrome?

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Identified less than 20 years ago, Metabolic Syndrome has become an increasingly common   condition around the world. It is also known as Syndrome X, the condition runs in families  and your risks of developing it increases as you age.

Identified less than 20 years ago, Metabolic Syndrome has become an increasingly common condition around the world. It is also known as Syndrome X, the condition runs in families and your risks of developing it increases as you age. 

People with Metabolic Syndrome tend to be overweight or obese and the syndrome is considered to be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes. Additional research also indicates that Metabolic Syndrome substantially ups the risk of developing certain cancers, liver disease and Alzheimer's disease.However this syndrome is not a disease in itself but rather a cluster of disorders related to dysfunctional metabolism. These disorders include: insulin resistance, high blood pressure, an increased risk for blood clotting, high blood sugar, low "good" cholesterol levels, elevated levels of triglycerides (or blood fat) and excessive abdominall fat.You would have to have at least three of these disorders to be officially diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome.

Causes of the condition:

While experts aren't sure why Metabolic Syndrome develops, insulin resistance, obesity, unhealthy lifestyle choices, hormonal imbalances, as well as genetics influence the development of the syndrome. In people with insulin resistance, insulin (the hormone that helps the body properly utilise glucose as energy) doesn't work as efficiently as it should. The body thus makes too much insulin in an attempt to cope with the rising level of glucose and this, in turn, can lead to a person developing diabetes, as well as other conditions associated with Metabolic Syndrome.

As obesity is a major factor in the development of the Metabolic Sydrome, experts point to the world's rising obsity rates as proof of a similar increase in the prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome. A healthy body mass index (BMI) is measured at around 18.5 to 24.9 and obesity is defined by the World Health Organisation as an individual having a BMI of over 30. Amazingly according to the World Health Organisation, obesity has nearly doubled worldwide since the 1980's.

Poor lifestyle choices especially ingesting too much sugar and other refined carbohydrate, not exercising, not getting sufficient sleep and high levels of psycholigical stress play a role in the development of Metabolic Syndrome. However, of all the influencing factors, poor food choices in the guise of sugar and refined carbohydrate contributes between 80% and 90% of the total effect. What scientists are also discovering is that chronic diseases of lifestyle generally do not show up alone and are in fact all part of the more complex
Metabolid Syndrome.

Are you a Metabolic Syndrome Sufferer:

Having one component of Metabolic Syndrome means that you are more likely to experience others and, the more you have, the greater the health risk. If you are experiencing at least one Metabolis Syndrome disorder - like high blood sugar or excessive belly fat - you may also potentially be suffering from other factors but not know it. A consultation with your doctor will determine whether you have Metabolic Syndrome and what you can do to avoid the serious diseases associated with the syndrome.

Managing Metabolic Syndrome:

If you've just been diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome, some lifestyle changes can prevent serious illness in the future. Treatment is focused on tackling each risk factor and reducing the risk of diabetes, blood vessel disease and heart disease. Firstly it is imperative that you lose weight as this can improve every aspect of Metabolic Syndrome. Begin by adopting a balanced and healthy diet, and avoid eating processed good or foods rich in salt, sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils. Instead enjoy a diet low in carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates. This healthy eating can improve your cholesterol, blood pressure and insulin resistance and help you to lose weight.

It is also important to partake in regular phsical activity. Exercise will improve insulin resistance, lower blood pressure and improve cholesteterol levels. walking is an excellent way to get moving but aim to find an exercise that suits your lifestyle and that you will enjoy. That way you will be more likely to stick with a regular regime. If you smoke, give some thought to joining a smoking cessation programme. Not only does smoking increase your risk of blood vessel and heart disease, but quitting now will ensure you live a longer and healthier life overall.

On average we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night to maintain energy, mental alertness and a properly functioning immune system. Sufficient sleep also helps keep your weight in check and this has much to do with the hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin controls hunger and there is an increase in this hormone when one is sleep deprived. Leptin tells you to stop eating, and less is produced with less sleep. An imbalance in either of these hormones, leads to weight gain. Too little sleep can slow your metabolism and cause you to reach for high-energy comfort foods in an effort to counteract the fatigue. Thus it is imperative that you get sufficient rest in order to better control Metabolic Syndrome. There are also a number of medications and supplements which can help in the management of Metabolic Syndrome. Consult your doctor or health practioner to determine the appropriate medication for you.