If you haven’t heard of this term – Metabolic Syndrome – you surely have seen or heard about the criteria for having it. This is characterized by abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure), and changes in cholesterol. The increase in high calorie, low fiber, fast foods combined with lack of physical activity and sedentary lifestyles have contributed to the enormous rise in this particular condition.
If you have metabolic syndrome you are five times more likely to develop diabetes and obesity. The prevalence of pre-diabetes was three times higher in this category as well.
What plays a roll then in our daily lives in contributing to this?
Our choices of highly processed foods, white pastas, sugar and low fiber (whole foods like vegetables and fruits) are contributing factors. We have strayed far away from a real food diet, and into a world where people believe what comes from a package or box is actually food. We are missing key nutrients our body needs to maintain proper function. Packages, boxes and bags have little to no nutritional value and are just empty calories, leaving you hungry for more after enormous bags and portions. You are hungry because that “food” didn’t get you any of the nutrients your body was asking for to maintain proper function.
This problem is creating unstable gut health, destroying our microbiome and balance, and adding to more syndromes and disorders on top of what comes with metabolic syndrome. That means autoimmunity (fibromyalgia, lupus, auto inflammatory disorders, MS, more), it also means increases in infections and more serious infections taking hold (such as SARS-CoV2 – leading to COVID-19). Eating real food allows the body to heal up the gut, and balance back out again, thus alleviating these conditions and symptoms and preventing serious illness and infection down the road.
We need to choose – MORE VEGETABLES! This is the number one food source that contributes to much to gut health and our immunity that most people are skipping. Cooking vegetables in healthy fat sources, or dressing them with olive oil is a great way to get these in daily. EACH MEAL needs vegetables of some type. Even breakfast. Organic is best for nutritional value and cleanliness, but eating these over boxes is always a better choice regardless of the organic vs traditional.
We need to choose – HEALTHY PROTEINS! These are grass fed and finished animals, wild caught animals, pastured livestock products. The health of the animal is equal to the nutrients you receive. The more wild, and natural and/or organic the MORE nutrients you get and the LESS pesticides and chemicals you eat.
We nee to choose – LESS GRAIN, and WHOLE GRAIN if we can tolerate it. Grains are tricky. There is a MASSIVE amount of our population that has become grain intolerant from years of processed foods and lack of fresh quality foods. My general recommendation is less of these more of vegetables and fruits. For CERTAIN individuals certain grains work GREAT for nutritional value. For others they are irritants. This is where working with a practitioner to help you balance metabolic syndrome would be best.
We live in a highly stressful world (created on our own account). We run from activity to activity, we have no down time, we do not focus on decompression and meditation or other stress-relieving activities. We are not wired to have low levels of stress (or even high) at all times. This response was saved (in previous times) for flight or fight only. We utilize this pathway and metabolic process all day every day. This system is also the same one that helps us control blood sugar and regulate that. In many people they are overwhelmed with high carbohydrate and sugar diets, that need a lot of processing and work by this same system they are using to get their kids out of the house from activity to activity and school and work – all day every day.
Stress also contributes to poorer gut health, and then immune system break down. Over 80% of our immune system lies within our GI tract. That means that proper gut health is ESSENTIAL to preventing immune problems. And if you have any immune issues you know that when stress increases, you end up with a flare or symptoms again. This is why.
3- Activity level
We live a very sedentary lifestyle. We have every convenience. We drive to work (rarely walking or even biking), we have everything delivered to our doorsteps, we live (many of us) in neighborhoods with very little yard or property maintenance. We most certainly do not need to walk everywhere all day, hunt and forage for food, and migrate depending on the season. We have access to food all year round, in as large a quantity as we want (no fasting necessary).
Exercise is important to continue to build muscle, maintain function and more but it’s NOT THE THING that will save everyone from this low activity level.
We need to rethink how we work and spend our days and include more activity. We need to take breaks from our screens, and chairs. We need to purposely move more at work, and at home. It might be taking a walk in the woods, or in your neighborhood after dinner rather than sitting in front of the TV all night. It might be getting a stand up desk for work, and taking frequent movement breaks. Even if just to the bathroom and back. We need to create a yard space that promotes time outside, and caretaking and movement. Create a nice landscaped area that you maintain. Grow a garden (requires maintenance and movement, as well as REAL FOOD!). Choose to stand more than sit. Could you walk to work? Could you bike to work?
If this seems overwhelming to make change, I am here as a practitioner to help. I work with people with metabolic syndrome or even just some of the symptoms of this, as well as autoimmunity, auto inflammatory and children and teens. You have the power to change your future with better health, more movement and less infection and disability.