Have you ever been told you are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes?
Maybe you have diabetes in your family, and you are worried about whether you may also develop it?
Then let’s talk about a condition called Metabolic Syndrome. You may have heard of this condition being referred to as ‘pre-diabetes’. And essentially, a diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome really is a warning signal your body is sending to let you know that everything is not ok. The trouble is, in our day and age, we’ve become REALLY good at tuning out from these little clues. Unfortunately for us, a diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome is usually the first step on a slippery slope where it comes down to one of two choices – take a step back and change direction, or continue on down that slope towards diabetes - where you may just find your feet go out from underneath you…
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost 1 million adults were living with Type 2 Diabetes in 2017-18 1. Given the impact of the current state of our nation – the reality of lockdowns (that seem to come with an increase in comfort eating, the burden of extra stress and fewer opportunities to exercise) I would be incredibly surprised if these statistics haven’t actually gotten worse over the past couple of years. And one of the most frightening things is that this condition, which used to virtually only be seen in older people, is now quite common amongst young people. In fact, it is expected that the current generation will see a reduction in life expectancy – whereas every generation that has come before them experienced an increase, compared to their parents and grandparents. Scary stuff.
What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
The technical term ‘syndrome’ refers to a cluster of symptoms or signs that occur together, pointing to a certain disorder within the body. In the case of Metabolic Syndrome, if you meet 3 out of the 5 following criteria, then you fit the bill:
- Carrying too much weight around the midsection. A waist circumference of over 88cm for women, or over 102cm for men is classed as falling into the high-risk zone
- High triglycerides (free fats in the bloodstream)
- Low HDL (‘good’ cholesterol that helps protect you against heart disease)
- High blood pressure (over 130/85)
- High fasting blood glucose
These valuable clues to your metabolic health come about due to an imbalance in how your body regulates your blood sugar – which in turn affects how your body absorbs and processes the foods you eat, and how your cells (particularly those in your blood vessels) react.
Apart from these (typically medically assessed) signs, you may also notice some other little clues, such as:
- Difficulty losing weight, even when calorie counting or exercising regularly
- Acne outbreaks
- Skin 'tags'
- Sleep disruptions – sleep apnoea, difficulty falling/staying asleep, snoring
- Sugar cravings
- Hormonal imbalances such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Low moods/depression
Factors that may be involved in the development of Metabolic Syndrome include stress, toxin exposure, poor gut health and sitting on your be-hind most of the time (which lets face it - most of us are guilty of!).
When Your Body Sends You A Warning Signal...
The fact is that our modern lifestyle is costing us dearly. Our bodies have evolved from a time where food wasn’t always abundantly available – it was normal for our ancestors to go through times where food was scarce, as well as times where they could feast and lay down some padding for winter. Now, we only really have the feasting part, and this lasts all year round! Never in the history of mankind has so much food been readily available. The result has been that we eat far more than we need, of foods that we just aren’t designed to deal with, coupled with sitting down more than we ever have before. And unfortunately, it’s costing us…
The good news about Metabolic Syndrome is that it really does offer you a chance to step in (and step up) and put things to right before they become a huge issue. You are not stuck with your diagnosis, and it IS reversible, with the right approach.
A diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome can be looked at as you would the warning light on the dash of your car. You can either take your car in for a service and correct the problem before it causes a serious incident – or you can cut the warning light and pretend all is ok. I know which one I'd prefer.
Why The Long Game Matters
In the clinic, one of the areas I am absolutely passionate about is seeing people achieve true quality of life. I decided a long time ago that life was far too short to spend it unhealthy or unhappy, and the truth is that we have far more control over the direction we take than we are led to believe.
The path of Metabolic Syndrome leads nowhere good. It is not a happy road. It is a road that can lead to a shorter life, pain and suffering, and keeps you from being your best self.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
So, as well as being passionate about improving our quality of life, I am also passionate about doing something when faced with a challenge. Here’s how you can reduce your risk in practical terms, and switch over to the path that leads to a much brighter place:
- You NEED to address what you are eating. I’m sorry if you are addicted to your white bread, sugary drinks, alcoholic drinks or your get-togethers, but a diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome means that what you are feeding your body isn’t right for it. Instead, focus on basing your meals around:
- A palm-sized portion of lean protein (chicken/fish/grass-fed meat/eggs/legumes/nuts etc)
- 3 cupped handfuls of veggies
- Some healthy fats such as olive oil, flaxseed oil or avocado
- Try to minimise snacking. Somewhere along the line, we were told that it was healthier to eat multiple small meals throughout the day, however there are 2 things wrong with this. The first is – who on earth keeps all their meals small?! I don’t know anyone who does this! Even with this supposedly ‘good advice’, most people still eat normal-sized main meals, and then snacks on top. This adds up to quite a lot of food! The second reason why keeping snacks to a minimum is a good idea is that reducing the frequency of eating actually aids fat-burning. When we are continually feeding our body during the day we are keeping ourselves pretty permanently in fat-storage mode, and never allowing our body to dip into the fat-burning zone.
- Manage your stress levels. Stress is something that we can’t always escape, but we can change how we deal with it. Again, taking a few steps to become proactive rather than reactive is really the key here. Schedule time out where you can – and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Walking the dog, listening to some good music, reading a book or even just shutting off your phone for a little while and re-connecting with your important people is invaluable.
- Support your gut health. Emerging evidence is increasingly linking poor gut health with a number of chronic health conditions that are commonplace these days – including weight problems and an increased risk of diabetes. There are many simple strategies that you can use to build and maintain a healthy gut – that don’t involve expensive supplements or horrible-tasting broths!
A Clear-Cut Plan Designed With YOU In Mind…
Finally, if you feel you’d a simple strategy to fast-track your way towards a healthier future, then the Metabolic Balance program is ideal for you.
The program addresses the underlying causes of Metabolic Syndrome, and was specifically designed to prevent these kinds of issues. Best of all – the program is not a diet, but instead a way to find out which foods suit your body, making healthy eating a breeze.
1 ABS 2019a. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Findings based on Detailed Microdata File analysis. Canberra: ABS.