Metabolic syndrome is a congregation of various risk factors, such as increase in fasting blood glucose of around 100 mg/dl, elevation in serum triglycerides of around 150 mg/dl, elevation in blood pressure of around 135/85 mmHg, increase in waist circumference of around 35” for women and 40” for men with a decrease in HDL (high density lipoprotein) to less than 40 mg/dl that increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. If three or more of the above risk factors are present in a person then a person is said to have metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is directly proportional to obesity and modern unhealthy lifestyle modifications.1
Can You Be Cured Of Metabolic Syndrome?
What is the management for metabolic syndrome? Metabolic syndrome is characterized by an increased risk of diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Cigarette smoking, increased blood pressure, increased glucose levels and abnormal lipid profile are all attributed risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Although, metabolic syndrome can be prevented and treated by managing the risk factors and treating the root problem of unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle and obesity, it cannot be cured fully.2
To reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, one major focus should be improving unhealthy diet or diet rich in saturated fatty acids including cholesterol and triglycerides. 3 American Heart Association recommends moderate fat intake for metabolic syndrome and avoid extremely low-fat diet. This is due to the fact that extremely low-fat diet is high in carbohydrates, which can reduce HDL and elevate triglycerides that may prompt weight gain. Fat consumption should be in the range of 25-35% with higher intake of unsaturated fatty acids.4
Diet rich in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains and unsaturated fats is associated with decreased chances of metabolic syndrome. There is no one component of the diet, either, fat or carbohydrate that would prevent metabolic syndrome, but balance of both of them would surely prevent metabolic syndrome. Mediterranean diet that includes high fibers, low refined carbohydrates and moderate fat (usually unsaturated) with moderate to high vegetable protein has shown a positive influence on metabolic syndrome.5
Weight loss of around five to ten percent of body weight helps increased sensitization of insulin to the tissues preventing insulin resistance due to accumulated adipose tissue layer, thus, reducing the chances of developing diabetes. Weight loss is also beneficial in elevated blood pressure and preventing build up of cholesterol, thus again preventing cardiovascular disease. Daily exercising for at least 45 minutes five times a week gives a great start at weight loss along with following appropriate dietary changes.6
In addition to lifestyle changes with diet and exercise for metabolic syndrome, certain medications to lower glycemic index, blood pressure, cholesterol and overweight can be taken. Although, drugs for weight loss have not proven to be much effective, other drugs for pre-diabetes, elevated blood pressure and elevated lipids can be taken to bring them to normal limits. Metformin is among the most commonly used drug for diabetes that helps reduce blood glucose levels. ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and ARB are medications for elevated blood pressure, whereas, statins are used for reducing blood lipid levels. Bariatric surgery is a good alternative for obese individuals who have tried losing weight with diet, exercise or medications, but have failed in the process.7
Along with unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle, to combat metabolic syndrome, individuals should also focus on other risk factors or habits that have deleterious effect on their health such as cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption.8 Cigarette smoking has been linked to atherosclerosis and insulin desensitization of tissues, which plays a vital role in the development of cardiovascular diseases. Alcohol consumption is associated with elevated lipid profile and weight gain. Smoking cigarettes and alcohol intake should be minimized or altogether stopped to lead a healthier life. Getting rid of these unhealthy lifestyle choices requires a lot of will power and determination, which can be assisted with counseling and rehabilitation programs for alcohol and counseling and drugs for cessation of cigarette smoking.
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