Metabolic syndrome is a collective term for a group of risk factors that can raise your chance of developing heart disease and other health problems like diabetes.
In general, excess weight and lack of activity can lead to metabolic syndrome, but there are five specific factors that can put you at risk for it.
- Having a large waistline compared to hip circumference
- Low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- High triglyceride levels
- High levels of blood sugar
- High blood pressure
The good news is that with dietary changes and exercise you can reverse metabolic syndrome. Since the risk for metabolic syndrome increases with age, it is critical to modify your child or teenager’s lifestyle habits as early as possible. Here are top aspects you should know about metabolic syndrome:
Review Your Family History
Your genetic makeup is part of the risk factors, so if one of your close relatives has had diabetes or heart disease, your child or teen could be at elevated risk for metabolic syndrome.
Your Body Shape Matters
Where you “wear” your fat matters: If your child looks more like an apple than a pear, the risk of developing metabolic syndrome is greater. Carrying weight around the middle is an indication of excess visceral fat, a key risk factor for the development of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even certain cancers.
Follow A Plant-Based Diet
The most current set of dietary guidelines for Americans encourages a plant-focused Mediterranean diet high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, and seafood – with less meat, cheese, sugars, and sweets.
Dietary Fiber Lowers Your Risk
Focus on incorporating foods rich in soluble fiber – like oats and beans. Insoluble fibers like whole grains can help elimination while keeping your child feeling full, longer. It is recommended to fill at least half your child’s plate with veggies and fruits, and choose whole-grain carbs to make less room on the plate (and in your child’s stomach) for less-beneficial choices.
Be Mindful What You Drink
Fruit juices, sports drinks and sugary soda beverages can spike your child’s blood sugar levels. Water is the best beverage for healthy hydration. And it’s good to know that unsweet tea, coffee, skim or low-fat milk, and fruits and vegetables provide water without extra calories, too.
The Importance Of Weight Loss
Many people don’t realize that even a modest 5% reduction of their body weight positively impacts blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol/triglycerides. For example, if your child or teenager weighs 160 lbs but the ideal weight is 120 lbs, even a drop of 8-10 lbs could improve your teen’s lab markers. It could even decrease or eliminate the need for prescription medication.
The Importance Of Exercise
Even moderate aerobic exercise can improve cholesterol levels, so exercising regularly, preferably at least 60 minutes/day, five days/week can help ward off metabolic syndrome. Moreover, strength training and intense aerobic exercise may improve your child’s blood glucose sensitivity and reduce elevated insulin levels.
Ditch The Sedentary Lifestyle
Sitting is the new smoking: Sedentary activities such as watching TV, working all day on the computer, sitting at school, at home or sitting while commuting are associated with increased risk for metabolic syndrome.
Testing Your Fasting Insulin Levels
Blood glucose and A1C levels are most commonly tested – but testing your child’s fasting insulin level can predict the risk of developing prediabetes and metabolic syndrome as insulin plays a key role in metabolism.
Take The First Step Today On Your child's
Journey Back To Health
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