Metabolic syndrome (MS) refers to a cluster of a few interrelated metabolic conditions that can increase the risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular diseases in the future. Metabolic syndrome includes conditions like hypertension, high fasting blood glucose level, obesity, etc. As per The International Diabetes Federation, when the conditions are found in combination (three or more), a diagnosis of MS can be reached.
A study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research concluded that MS is a rapidly increasing lifestyle condition that poses a significant threat to public health. An Indian study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care adds that MS is prevalent in 11-41% of the population and that women are at a higher risk of getting it. While MS is commonly seen in people beyond the age of 40 years, with 80% of cases belonging to the age group, its incidence in younger age groups has been increasing over the past few years.
Metabolic risk factors
If you have 3 or more of the following metabolic conditions, you may be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
- Central obesity or excess fat accumulation in the waist and belly area
- Elevated blood glucose level (type 2 diabetes mellitus ), gestational diabetes or family history of diabetes
- High blood pressure or hypertension (more than 120/80 mmHg)
- High level of triglycerides (a type of fat) in the body or hypertriglyceridemia
- Low level of good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood
- Other conditions such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
MS has the potential to turn life-threatening, so it is very important to try and prevent it from the very beginning. Regularly monitoring of blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglycerides and bringing in the following lifestyle changes can help:
- Dietary modifications: A diet rich in fiber and scarce in sugar and fat can help prevent MS. Try to eat more whole grains, vegetables, leafy greens, lean meat (chicken), fish, etc. Avoid fried foods, processed foods and foods that contain a lot of sugar (desserts, pastries, chocolates, etc). Also, it’s best to limit consumption of salt as high salt intake can cause a rise in blood pressure.
- Activity modification: Regular physical activities and exercise boost metabolism. This, in turn, helps reduce excess body weight and improves heart function. As per recent recommendations by the WHO, adults should do moderate-intensity aerobic physical exercise for at least 2.5 to 3 hours (150–300 minutes) throughout the week. Yoga and breathing exercises are also helpful in maintaining blood pressure and managing heart conditions. Meditation also helps relieve mental stress. Sometimes, heart diseases can be worsened by stress, so practising it regularly and sleeping well can alleviate some stress from your life.
For more information, read our article on Metabolic syndrome.
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