“Metabolic syndrome” may be a new term for you. It’s a collection of clinical features that are associated with increased future risk of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerotic complications such as heart attack and stroke. One in six Americans has metabolic syndrome. Diagnosis requires at least three of the following five conditions:
- high blood pressure (130/85 or higher, or using a high blood pressure medication)
- low HDL cholesterol: under 40 mg/dl (1.03 mmol/l) in a man, under 50 mg/dl (1.28 mmol/l) in a women (or either sex taking a cholesterol-lowering drug)
- triglycerides over 150 mg/dl (1.70 mmol/l) (or taking a cholesterol-lowering drug)
- abdominal fat: waist circumference 40 inches (102 cm) or greater in a man, 35 inches (89 cm) or greater in a woman
- fasting blood glucose over 100 mg/dl (5.55 mmol/l)
What To Do About It
Metabolic syndrome and simple excess weight often involve impaired carbohydrate metabolism. Over time, excessive carbohydrate consumption can turn overweight and metabolic syndrome into prediabetes, then type 2 diabetes. Carbohydrate restriction directly addresses impaired carbohydrate metabolism naturally. When my patients have metabolic syndrome, some of my recommendations are:
- weight loss, often via a low-carb diet (but most any reasonable diet may also work)
- carbohydrate-restricted diet if blood sugars or triglycerides are elevated
- regular exercise, a combination of strength and aerobic training
If these are effective, the patient can often avoid costly drugs and their potential adverse effects.
Ask your doctor what she thinks.