You have probably heard of metabolic syndrome, the precursor to
Type 2 diabetes. But do you know how doctors define that?
If anyone in your family has suffered from Type 2 diabetes, then
you are more likely to be at risk. But there are also three blood tests and two
body measurements on which doctors base their diagnosis.
Anyone who is positive for three or more of these signs is
considered to have metabolic syndrome, and to be at risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Luckily, you can do the body measurements yourself.
Your blood pressure is taken when you go to your doctor’s office,
so you might already know the numbers. If you are taking blood pressure
medicine, you are certainly aware of your blood pressure. Being on blood
pressure medication automatically counts as one sign of metabolic syndrome.
If you want to take your own blood pressure, there are two types
of instruments you can buy at a drug store. One is similar to the tool your
doctor’s office uses. The other one is automatic – put the cuff on, push a
button, and the machine does the rest.
Whichever tool you choose, if your blood pressure is higher than
130 over 85 mmHg, you have high blood pressure.
Measure your waist is the second test. For women, if your waist is
larger than 35 inches, it is a sign of enough abdominal fat (belly fat) which
is one sign of metabolic syndrome. (You can often see the problem just by
standing sideways in front of a mirror and checking your waist.)
The blood tests will usually be included in any testing your
High bad cholesterol is not a nice thing to have, but the test
that doctors are interested in for metabolic syndrome is HDL cholesterol – the
“good” cholesterol. They also want to know if you are taking cholesterol
Taking cholesterol medicine automatically counts as a sign of
possible metabolic syndrome. If you aren’t taking any cholesterol medicine, but
your HDL cholesterol is lower than 50 mg/dL, this is another sign of metabolic
If you are on cholesterol medication it counts the same as if you
had high triglycerides. Otherwise, if your triglyceride level is higher than
150 mg/dL, it counts against you in the list of signs of metabolic disease.
Blood sugar testing should always be done when you have fasted. Do
not eat for 8 hours before the test. A fasting blood sugar above 100 mg/dL says
you may be suffering from some insulin resistance right now. (Another sign can
be increased thirst.)
If you have one or two of those signs, it is time to consider
getting on a better health program, including a diet rich in vegetables and
fruits, anti-stress measures, and exercise of some sort. If you have any three
of those signs, then you have metabolic syndrome.
Start a For-Life Diet
Those signs are usually associated with weight gain and obesity,
so losing weight is obviously one thing to help reverse the signs. There are
other things you can do to help also, whether or not you have a weight problem.
And the time to start is right now.
If you have tried multiple diets only to regain your weight (and
even a bit more) soon after, that is because diets that cause fast weight loss
tend to re-set your fat thermostat.
Your body knows it is starving and will do everything it can to
keep that from happening. It adjusts certain pathways to save and store
calories as much as possible, and, bingo, you are set up for increased weight
You need to start a diet that you don’t stop, such as the
Mediterranean diet or the Keto diet, and make sure your version is high in
veggies and fruits. Even modifying the American diet to cut out fried foods and
sugar and add in a lot more vegetables can be helpful.
You also need exercise. Aerobic exercise can reduce your appetite.
Exercise can also re-set your fat thermostat. Your body changes from storing
calories to using calories, and a different set of processes are needed to do
One easy exercise is walking. It is even easier if you have
friends or neighbors who are interested in starting a gentle exercise program
If you pair up with an accountability partner, you can keep each
other dedicated and motivated. Right now, when everyone is thinking about their
January resolutions, is a great time to recruit others.
If walking is a problem, water aerobics, yoga, and chair yoga are
other options. The most important part is to become more active.
Stress can also play a part in exacerbating metabolic syndrome –
it is not helpful for blood pressure and can contribute to the munchies and
ruin your diet plan. Exercise often helps with stress, but if you need more
help, meditation or some alone time in a quiet room with soothing music can help
take the edge off.
What is your diet plan? Has anyone in your family been diagnosed
with Type 2 diabetes? Do you have a physical exam with a blood test every year?
Do you have any of the 5 signs of diabetes? Please share with our community.