What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of metabolic dysfunctions in the body which can be; obesity, fat around the middle, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inflammation, pain in the joints and an inability to balance your blood sugars. Other conditions that are related to metabolic syndrome are polycystic ovaries and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  To get an NHS diagnosis of having metabolic syndrome you need to present with 3 or more of these symptoms, having said this, if you have reached the point of having 3 of these conditions, it’s most likely seriously impacting your day to day life.  In my next blog, I am going to discuss some of the typical symptoms that indicate you maybe at higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

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What are the key symptoms of a metabolic condition?

  • Weight gain- You may have noticed you are gaining weight, especially around the middle and its becoming more and more difficult to lose it. This is a key sign of insulin resistance. For the typical European woman, this would be a waistline of over 80cm, and for men, over 90cm. For Asian populations these measurements are slightly less.
  • Blood sugar balance- You may have heard the term insulin resistance? A typical symptom of metabolic condition is the inability to regulate your blood sugar levels- this presents as energy slumps during the day, often in the afternoon, constantly craving sugary foods, feeling like you want to go to sleep after a meal or feeling particularly ‘hangry’ before eating.
  • Cholesterol- Dysregulated cholesterol levels – ie. high LDL, low HDL or high triglyeride levels can only be identified by a standard blood test. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms to be aware of, but long term can cause diabetes, heart attacks and stroke. As a nutrigenomic practitioner, I know that we can have a genetic predisposition to this. If you have high cholesterol running in the family, it would be beneficial to test your genetics pathways, because prevention is always better than cure.
  • High blood pressure- another symptom of metabolic syndrome. If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher consistently, you will probably be diagnosed with high blood pressure. It’s also generally attributed to people who are overweight.

Whilst these are typical symptoms, its important to under that chronic stress is a major hormonal driver of all metabolic syndrome. It promotes an accumulation of fat around the middle (visceral fat), and this obesity in turn creates more inflammation in the body and it becomes a vicious circle.

High levels of cortisol, your stress hormones can also be implicated in high blood pressure and insulin resistance.

Whether you have had an official diagnosis or not, you could be on your way to a metabolic syndrome if you are suffering with any of these common symptoms. 

So how can I manage this?