Metabolic Syndrome – What Causes It

Metabolic syndrome is a group of signs (physical measurements) that occur together with disastrous individual results.

Some of these signs can be measured at home using nothing more than a bathroom scale and a tape measure. If you weigh yourself and then consult a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator or chart you will know if you are at risk for this syndrome. If your BMI is above 25 you are at risk. If it is above 30 you almost certainly have it or are moving in that direction rapidly.

If you use your tape measure around your waist at the level of your umbilicus (belly button) and find it is over 40 inches for a man or 35 inches for a woman you probably have it or are moving in that direction.

Metabolic Syndrome is diagnosed when you have problems controlling your glucose but are not yet diabetic, have trouble with higher than normal triglycerides (a blood fat involved with glucose) and lower than normal HDL cholesterol (the good stuff). Your baseline blood pressure is higher than normal and your platelets (involved in blood clotting) tend to be stickier than usual. You also have too much fat inside your abdomen.

The result is slowly progressive stress on the pancreas which produces insulin, more fat in the arteries that the body can not remove and tends to calcify (plaque formation) and a propensity to form clots where they are not needed like the blood vessels of the heart and brain. Spikes in your blood sugar aggravate this and also cause injury to the small blood vessels that feed the nerves in our feet and supply our kidney and brain tissue with blood.

To counter these metabolic effects we need to have an energy deficit. That means we need to eat less calories than we burn each day. Regular exercise, even if it is just lifestyle adjustments like parking further from the door and walking up steps instead of taking the elevator help in the process of causing the body to begin to use its stored energy reserves. It is important to do this slowly since rapid weight loss brought about by very low calorie diets cause us to lose fat externally and to store it in the liver. This condition – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – causes mild to moderate liver damage.