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Nutrition Series: Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, and Insulin Resistance

Apr 5, 2021

Last Tuesday, we had the first in a series of six Nutrition lectures, called the Nutrition Series. These lectures, hosted on Facebook Live, will run for the next 5 Tuesdays at 1 PM. If you’re more of an auditory learner, please head over to our Facebook page and check out the video on this subject from last Tuesday.

First, a disclaimer. This blog today is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. If you have concerns about your blood sugar level or how to treat an existing issue, please reach out to your physician or a nutritionist. Additionally, while many of these issues we’ll talk about today can be managed or treated by achieving a healthy weight, weight loss is not always the answer. It is important that you have a doctor and care team that take your health and concerns seriously, regardless of your weight.

So, onto our subject! Today we’ll be talking about Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, and Diabetes. While these are all issues related to glucose levels in the blood and insulin, what’s the difference?

Insulin Resistance is defined as a normal glucose but high insulin level.

Metabolic Syndrome or Prediabetes occurs at a fasting glucose of 100-125 mg.

Diabetes occurs at a fasting glucose of 126 mg or greater.

Insulin Resistance

Normally, beta cells in the pancreas produce insulin in response to a rise in blood glucose (sugar) levels, which happens every time we eat. Insulin assists glucose in going from the blood into cells, where it is used. If it cannot enter, then glucose levels in the bloodstream get too high. This lack of response to insulin is called insulin resistance.

At this point, the pancreas responds by making more insulin. The extra glucose is then stored in fat cells usually around the abdominal area, and may contribute to higher fat levels in the bloodstream.

Often there are no symptoms, and it goes undetected until the problem gets worse. People who do have symptoms may experience difficulty concentrating, feelings of hunger, food cravings, bloating, and lethargy.

Metabolic Syndrome (Prediabetes)

Metabolic Syndrome is also known as Met S, Syndrome X, Cardiovascular metabolic syndrome, or insulin resistance syndrome. It is a cluster of conditions that occur together. To be diagnosed with the condition you must have 3 or more of the following:

Waist circumference >40 inches in men and >35 inches in women

Hyperlipidemia with triglycerides 150 mg/L or greater

HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dL in men, <50 mg/dL in women

High blood pressure 130/85 mm Hg or higher

High fasting blood glucose 100 mg/dL or higher

Metabolic Syndrome increases your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke. It can cause damage to blood vessels, heart, and kidneys, and can progress to diabetes with complications in as little as 4 years.

Diabetes

Complications of Diabetes include: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, fatty liver, chronic kidney disease, loss of vision, nerve damage and poor circulation to extremities.

Causes

Insulin Resistance: excess weight (especially in waistline), sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, chronic inflammation, use of steroids, family history, Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Metabolic Syndrome: above, plus uncontrolled insulin resistance

Diabetes: above, plus uncontrolled metabolic syndrome or pre diabetes


Prevention and Treatment

It is possible to prevent, slow, and in some cases reverse the progress of these diseases. Lifestyle modifications (weight loss, exercise, resistance training, less sitting, smoking cessation, adequate sleep and stress management, to name a few) and diet (increasing fiber (slows digestion, allows insulin levels time to respond), vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, fish, and low fat dairy, limiting/avoiding red meat, sugars, unhealthy fats, and alcohol) can help with Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome. Unfortunately, once the person is diagnosed with Diabetes, in most cases medication will be required. However, lifestyle modifications and positive diet changes can still have an impact!

As you can see, nutrition plays a large role in your health. Fueling your body the right way can prevent and in some cases reverse the effects of disease. Our nutrition program by Balanced Habits is a great start to making some effective changes. Our program is available both online and in our studio. Both versions include private nutrition counseling with your designated coach. You’ll meet once a week for the first 6 weeks and every other week for the second half of the program. We’d love to get you set up with a free consultation!

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