How to Reverse Metabolic Syndrome and Improve Your Health

Posted on: June 23, 2023

Metabolic syndrome is a serious and pervasive condition that affects about one in three adults in the United States. What you may not know is that it is also largely preventable and in most cases, even reversible! Let’s talk about how we can reduce and reverse these risk factors through lifestyle factors and supplementation.

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome, also called insulin resistance syndrome, is a set of conditions that together pose a serious risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as increased risk of cancer. It is not a single disease but a combination of several health conditions.

What is the cause of metabolic syndrome?

As a cluster of conditions, metabolic syndrome does not have a clear, singular cause, but it has been strongly linked to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and helps the glucose to enter the cell so it can be used for energy. Insulin resistance develops over time, often as a result of overconsuming carbohydrates and getting too little exercise.

Some people have a genetic predisposition to metabolic syndrome, and our risk increases with age. While of course, our age and genetic link cannot be modified, there are several risk factors that can be, including the risk factors for these five conditions that make up the syndrome.

What are the five signs of metabolic syndrome?

In my medical practice, when evaluating a patient for metabolic syndrome, I look for a combination of at least three of the following conditions to give a diagnosis:

Abdominal obesity 

Abdominal obesity is defined as having excess fat around the waistline. Men with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches and women with a waist circumference greater than 35 inches are considered to have abdominal obesity.

High blood pressure 

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is elevated pressure against the walls of the arteries. Readings above 130/80 mmHg constitute high blood pressure.

testing for metabolic syndrome, young doctor checking blood pressure

High triglyceride levels 

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood that is responsible for providing our bodies with energy. When the level of triglycerides in the blood exceeds 150 mg/dL, it is considered borderline high, and when it exceeds 200 mg/dL, it is considered high.

High blood glucose

Also called hyperglycemia, this refers to elevated levels of sugar in the blood. A fasting blood glucose level over 100 mg/dL is considered high.

Low levels of HDL cholesterol

HDL (High-density lipoprotein), often referred to as “good” cholesterol, helps to remove LDL or “bad” cholesterol from our bodies. HDL levels below 40 mg/dL in men and below 50 mg/dL in women are considered too low. 

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, you’re not alone, and I can help! Schedule a consultation with me to learn your options for safe, natural treatment.

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What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome?

The symptoms of metabolic syndrome depend on which of the five conditions you may have. High triglyceride levels and low levels of HDL cholesterol rarely cause symptoms, while high blood pressure can cause symptoms like headache and fatigue, and high blood glucose can cause symptoms like frequent urination and thirst. A lot of my patients with metabolic syndrome have difficulties losing weight and have low energy.

Can metabolic syndrome cause weight gain and can weight gain cause metabolic syndrome?

Obesity and weight gain are closely related to metabolic syndrome. Abdominal obesity is one of the conditions that makes up metabolic syndrome. Additionally, insulin resistance, which is associated with metabolic syndrome, makes it more difficult to lose weight, meaning that losing weight with metabolic syndrome can be very challenging as well.

losing weight with metabolic syndrome
, a girl checking the her weight

Is it possible to reverse metabolic syndrome?

Reversing metabolic syndrome simply means managing the relevant conditions and restoring the related areas of health enough to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes or serious cardiovascular diseases. My patients have proven that this is possible at any age through lifestyle factors such as diet changes, exercise, and in some cases, medication management.

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How do you get rid of metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome treatment, prevention, and reversal all look much the same. While medications may be prescribed to help manage metabolic syndrome, we can often prevent and reverse it through natural lifestyle factors.

How do you fix metabolic syndrome naturally?

There are a number of modifiable risk factors that can be naturally reduced to both reverse and prevent metabolic syndrome. I typically recommend a combination of the following for my patients.

Weight management

Weight management is a major player in preventing and reversing metabolic syndrome. Excess weight, particularly abdominal (visceral) fat, can contribute to insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, which are all components of metabolic syndrome that compound the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Studies show that losing just 5–7% of your body weight, while exercising for 150 minutes per week, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly 60%

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Healthy diet

A low-sugar diet that is rich in healthy fats is essential to managing weight and controlling your blood’s glucose, triglyceride, and HDL cholesterol levels. This diet, alongside low sodium intake, can help manage blood pressure too. I often recommend some form of Mediterranean diet to my patients. More specifically, I encourage patients to include the following in their diet for metabolic syndrome:

  • Plenty of vegetables
  • Lean proteins
  • A minimal amount of fiber-rich whole grains
  • A moderate amount of healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), like those found in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil

And I encourage my patients to avoid:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Processed carbohydrates, especially sugary drinks and alcohol
  • Fruit in large quantities
  • Saturated and trans fats

Regular exercise

diet for metabolic syndrome, A man in the kitchen of the house cooks a healthy meal of vegetables

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest risk factors for developing metabolic syndrome. This is because we need exercise to maintain healthy blood pressure, blood glucose levels, lipid levels, and insulin sensitivity.

A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training is particularly effective for improving metabolic health: each of these forms of exercise compounds the benefits of the other to help improve lipid and blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure, and support weight loss.

losing weight with metabolic syndrome,
Running shoes - woman tying shoe laces.

Metabolic syndrome supplements

There are a wide variety of supplements that have been shown to improve metabolic health and support the reversal of metabolic syndrome. In my clinic, for example, I often prescribe Berberine to help lower lipid levels and chromium to support lean body mass and help manage weight. Visit Fullscript to find high-quality supplements I recommend to help with blood sugar metabolism.

By addressing these lifestyle factors, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other serious conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.
Getting started can be challenging, but I can help you through a comprehensive metabolic health plan. I will guide you through specific and attainable lifestyle goals and provide targeted supplementation to help you improve your metabolic health, reverse metabolic syndrome, and achieve a healthier, more vibrant life. Book an appointment now.

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