I came across an article the other day written by a doctor who was using himself as a guinea pig in the quest for knowledge about how our bodies burn different fuel, primarily fat and glucose. He was fascinated by our ability to switch back and forth between these fuel sources, depending upon our state of activity, and by the body’s ability to actually manufacture certain fuels required to run our brains. The triggering event for this interest was his shocking diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome, despite being relatively young and a long-distance swimmer. I had never heard of Metabolic Syndrome and decided to dig deeper.
Basically, you are diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome if you have any three of the following:
- A waistline of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women (measured across the belly)
- A blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or higher or are taking blood pressure medications
- A triglyceride level above 150 mg/dl
- A fasting blood glucose (sugar) level greater than 100 mg/dl or are taking glucose-lowering medications
- A high density lipoprotein level (HDL) less than 40 mg/dl (men) or under 50 mg/dl (women)
The doctor I mentioned above was okay with the first two, but his blood chemistry told a different story and had him trip-up on the last three. How do you prevent, arrest or reverse Metabolic Syndrome while avoiding prescription drugs? Here are the most effective answers and, in the case of our doctor friend, the dietary adjustment had the most profound effect:
- Lose weight – Moderate weight loss, in the range of 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight, can help restore your body’s ability to recognize insulin and greatly reduce the chance that the syndrome will evolve into a more serious illness.
- Exercise – Increased activity alone can improve your insulin levels. Aerobic exercise such as a brisk 30-minute daily walk can result in a weight loss, improved blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Most health care providers recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Exercise may reduce the risk for heart disease even without accompanying weight loss.
- Consider dietary changes – Maintain a diet that keeps carbohydrates to no more than 50 percent of total calories. Eat foods defined as complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread (instead of white), brown rice (instead of white), and sugars that are unrefined (instead of refined; for example cookies, crackers). Increase your fiber consumption by eating legumes (for example, beans), whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of red meats and poultry. Thirty percent of your daily calories should come from fat. Consume healthy fats such as those in canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and nuts.
- Limit alcohol intake – Consume no more than one drink a day for women, or two drinks a day for men.
Here’s a quick video that provides a comprehensive solution:
(If the video doesn’t load, click here)
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