Metabolic Syndrome is essentially an umbrella term for a wide variety of health conditions. These conditions include; hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol, high blood sugar levels), excess visceral fat, insulin resistance and high blood pressure. A combination of these factors increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes, stroke or heart disease 2.5 fold. Increased Heart Failure Risk in Norma-Weight People with Metabolic Syndrome compared with Metabolically Healthy Obese Individuals. Journal of Cardiology. Christina Voulgari, Nicholas Tentolouris et al. Vol. 58. No. 13. 2011. http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/accj/58/13/1343.full.pdf Unfortunately, as the incidence of metabolic syndrome rises, it’s more likely that you’ll know someone affected by the condition. In 2012, 34.7% of Americans were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the United States 2003-2012. Aguilar M. Bhuket T. et al. 2015 High saturated fat and sugar diets, as well as a lack of exercise, can greatly induce the development of cardiovascular disease. Research has suggested that high-stress levels are also strongly correlated to the incidence of metabolic syndrome. In order to protect our health and hinder the onslaught of metabolic syndrome, it is vital that we follow a balanced diet and manage stress in a healthy way. Many of the factors contributing to metabolic syndrome are preventable and can be improved on over time. The progress of metabolic syndrome is due to an accumulation of bad habits over time, therefore early intervention is key in the prevention of the condition. As the saying goes, “live healthy, be happy!”.
How is Metabolic Syndrome Diagnosed?
According to the International Diabetes Federation, to be classified as having metabolic syndrome, the individual must have central obesity and two of the remaining four factors. International Diabetes Confederation, The IDF Consensus Worldwide Definition of Metabolic Syndrome. Central obesity or waist circumference is the biggest visual indicator of metabolic syndrome. To see if you’re at risk, simply measure the circumference of your waist and compare it to the circumference of your hips. The ratio of waist: hips should not be >0.8 for women or >1.0 for men. According to the International Diabetes Federation, a woman’s waist circumference should not be greater than 79cm, and a man’s should be <94cm. The metabolic syndrome – a worldwide definition. The Lancet 2005. Alberti K., Zimmet P., Shaw J. Regular blood tests can indicate any problems with blood cholesterol, sugar and triglycerol levels. It is generally recommended to get a blood test annually along with blood pressure checks. Annual general check ups from your general practitioner are a great way to monitor your health status and provide critical indications early on of a disease or medical condition.
The Stress Factor.
Stress is known as the silent killer. If not managed it can lead to certain health problems, some of which are associated with metabolic syndrome (obesity, high blood pressure diabetes). The biological mechanism of stress is not entirely clear and further research is required in this area of study. Research has shown that many of the physiological systems in the body can be influenced by chronic stress. An accumulation of stress can hinder the body’s immune system, activity of the nervous system and adrenaline secretion, but increases cortisol levels and ultimately breaks down bodily resources and manifest as illness. Life Event, Stress and Illness. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences. Mohd. Razali Salleh. 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/
Studies have suggested that there is a strong link between the accumulation of abdominal fat and stress that is uncontrolled. As central obesity is one of the key signs of metabolic syndrome, managing cortisol levels in the body is vital to prevent excess fatty deposition and therefore reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Increased abdominal fat has been shown to increase as cortisol (stress hormone) levels increase. The study also suggests that pyschological patterns may influence the body’s reaction to cortisol. Stress-induced cortisol response and fat deposition in woman. Obesity Research Journal. Moyer AE., Rodin J. et al. 1994
Studies have proven that fat accumulation is a strong indicator of oxidative stress. The increase of oxidative stress in storage fat is an important pathogenic mechanism of metabolic syndrome. Oxidative stress can impair glucose uptake in muscle and fat and underlies the pathophysiology of many cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Increased oxidative stress in obesity and its impact on metabolic syndrome. The Journal of Clinical Invesitgation. Shigetada Furukawa et al. 2005. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/21625/#top
Other risk factors;
- Ageing (which is more of a factor for woman than men.)
- Lower socio-economic groups.
- Poor diet (eg: lack of fruit and veg.)
- Smoking, alcohol consumption.
- Genetic Predisposition.
What are the Consequences?
Along with increased stress, both a person’s physiological and psychological health is affected. Consequences of uncontrolled stress include; high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease / attack (metabolic syndrome) as well as depression, skin rashes and certain cancers. Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress. The American Institute of Stress. 2017. https://www.stress.org/stress-effects/
So, if a person has metabolic syndrome, what does this mean for them? The most alarming consequences of metabolic syndrome is the increased likelihood of developing diabetes type II or cardiovascular morbidity or mortality. Those suffering from this condition are three times more susceptible to developing heart disease and / or stroke. Diabetes Care. American Diabetes Association. Cardiovascular Morbidity and Mortality Associated with the Metabolic Syndrome. Bo Isomaa, Peter Almgren. 2001.
Prevention and Treatment.
Essentially, the best form of treatment is prevention. Chronic stress has been identified as one of the most preventable causes of the condition. The redox state in adipose tissue is a potentially useful therapeutic target for metabolic syndrome and would be of interest to relevant professionals and researchers. As always, it is essential to eat a healthy balanced diet, with lots of fruit and vegetables, less saturated fat, and exercise regularly. In this day and age, it can seem as though we never have a minute to ourselves, we are always under pressure whether in work, school or socially. There are so many demands on us both mentally and physically, it is as though stress in inevitable. Don’t get me wrong, a small amount is good, it keeps us on our toes! But we need to be able to relieve our stress in one way or another.Many people look to food as an indulgent way to de-stress, but as a , ociety we need to remove the emphasis of rewarding ourselves with “treats” ie. unhealthy food.
Never feel guilty about treating yourself every once in a while, but moderation is key. So instead of indulging into a bar of chocolate as a “pick me up”, try another activity that may suit you! There are numerous ways of de-stressing. Any form of exercise has proven to be one of the most effective ways of relieving stress. Yoga is an increasingly popular option to help clear the mind. You can join a yoga class with a friend or do it in the comfort of your own home using apps and YouTube videos. Research has shown that smartphones can be the cause of increased stress, so don’t be afraid to switch it off from time to time. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/09/06/stress-relief-that-works_n_3842511.html From choosing the right filter to thinking of a witty caption, social media deems to be more stressful than necessary at times. Next time you feel overwhelmed just remember, that Instagram post can wait another day, I promise!
References [ + ]
|1.||⇪||Increased Heart Failure Risk in Norma-Weight People with Metabolic Syndrome compared with Metabolically Healthy Obese Individuals. Journal of Cardiology. Christina Voulgari, Nicholas Tentolouris et al. Vol. 58. No. 13. 2011. http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/accj/58/13/1343.full.pdf|
|2.||⇪||Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the United States 2003-2012. Aguilar M. Bhuket T. et al. 2015|
|3.||⇪||International Diabetes Confederation, The IDF Consensus Worldwide Definition of Metabolic Syndrome.|
|4.||⇪||The metabolic syndrome – a worldwide definition. The Lancet 2005. Alberti K., Zimmet P., Shaw J.|
|5.||⇪||Life Event, Stress and Illness. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences. Mohd. Razali Salleh. 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/|
|6.||⇪||Stress-induced cortisol response and fat deposition in woman. Obesity Research Journal. Moyer AE., Rodin J. et al. 1994|
|7.||⇪||Increased oxidative stress in obesity and its impact on metabolic syndrome. The Journal of Clinical Invesitgation. Shigetada Furukawa et al. 2005. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/21625/#top|
|8.||⇪||Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress. The American Institute of Stress. 2017. https://www.stress.org/stress-effects/|
|9.||⇪||Diabetes Care. American Diabetes Association. Cardiovascular Morbidity and Mortality Associated with the Metabolic Syndrome. Bo Isomaa, Peter Almgren. 2001.|