When the word 'syndrome' is used, it is discussing a collection of conditions that are connected.
Metabolic syndrome also known as syndrome x is a collection of risk factors that increase your chances of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. This syndrome dates back to 1966 but became widely recognised in 1988 when Gerald Reaven gave a lecture on it at the American Diabetes Association national meeting.
When you are experiencing symptoms from three out of the following five risk factors then the chances are high that you have metabolic syndrome, however even if you only have one then you will already have insulin resistance and more than likely fatty liver. Changes need to be made quickly to lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Abdominal obesity (central adiposity)
This can be a situation of which came first, the chicken or the egg. By that I mean, central adiposity can be the cause of metabolic syndrome and can also be a consequence of metabolic syndrome. Which means that whilst the circumference of the abdomen is a key sign of metabolic syndrome, those without increased central adiposity may also still have metabolic syndrome.
High Blood Pressure
When understanding the components of metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure is an important component. The underlying cause of hypertension in metabolic syndrome is a bit obscure as there are many factors that could possibly cause the hypertension. Those that can connect it with metabolic syndrome may include:
- central adiposity
- insulin resistance
- an overactive sympathetic nervous system (increased heart rate, rapid shallow breathing, unusual sweating, high body temperature, high blood pressure.
- oxidative stress (an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body
- endothelial dysfunction (endothelium - is the inner lining of the blood vessels)
- activated renin-angiotensin system (blood pressure regulation system - it gets activated to help maintain blood pressure and blood volume)
- increased inflammatory mediators
- obstructive sleep apnoea
Insulin resistance - pre diabetes
This is a key feature of metabolic syndrome and usually starts from childhood and is directly related to the food that you ate. It can be happening for 15 - 20 years before you even see any external signs such as weight gain. It is best understood as abnormal carbohydrate metabolism which I often explain to my patients that it is like carbohydrate intolerance. We easily understand lactose and gluten intolerance and we know the signs and symptoms for these. The signs of carbohydrate intolerance is weight gain and this is mainly due to the underlying condition of insulin resistance. The weight gain is due to acquired as well as genetic influences. Once you start having insulin issues if you are genetically predisposed you will gain weight which is often why we see it among family members. The biggest misconception about insulin resistance is that carbs are the problem when in actual fact they are the victim here. Other components of your diet are to blame.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. You need triglycerides for your health and energy. Having too many can be a sign of metabolic syndrome and definitely a sign of insulin resistance. High levels can also be caused by high processed foods with added oils, obesity, diabetes, underactive thyroid, kidney disease, alcohol consumption, and overeating.
Low HDL cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is often called the healthy cholesterol and LDL the not so good cholesterol. When there is an imbalance in cholesterol it is known as dyslipidemia.
Insulin resistance is partly responsible for dyslipidemia and leads to difficulty in clearing out triglycerides therefore leading to a build up, as well as being responsible for the decreased production of HDL cholesterol. Therefore individuals with insulin resistance are more prone to heart disease due to this imbalance in lipid metabolism.
Individuals with metabolic syndromeare also more prone to develop other pathologic conditions including polycystic ovary syndrome, non-alcoholic liver disease (NASH) also known as fatty liver, cholesterol gallstones, sleep disorders, and some types of cancer.
In my clinic I begin by addressing the medical concerns using herbal and nutritional medicine. At the same time I put them through my toxins be gone program which teaches new ways of eating, thinking and helps with changing habits. I love seeing the results and they love the recipes and learning new ways of eating which still include pasta, potatoes, rice and bread.
Who am I?
I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers. As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house.
Melissa Callaghan BHSc, BTeach
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