Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The condition is also known as Syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, hypertriglyceridemic waist, and obesity syndrome (also sometimes known as dysmetabolic syndrome). All of these describe the same condition in different ways and lead to the same result.
According to a national health survey, nearly 1 in 4 Americans experience this condition at this time.1 The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting more than 40 percent of people who are 60 years of age or older. I am a chiropractor but my practice includes nutritional consults, and it astonishes me to see that this national survey is true. Almost every patient I have complete the nutritional survey questionnaire shows blood sugar issues. Metabolic syndrome is beyond a doubt the No. 1 nutritional issue for people under the age of 60, and it’s something chiropractors can help correct with dietary advice and monitoring. To date, we have corrected close to 100 blood sugar (metabolic syndrome) cases in the past five years.
According to the new International Diabetes Federation (IDF) definition, a person diagnosed with metabolic syndrome must have the following clinical criteria present:
- Central obesity (a primary factor defined as waist circumference with ethnicity-specific values in the United States as greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men), including any two of the following four secondary factors:
- Elevated Blood pressure (>130/85 mg/dL)
- Increased fasting blood sugar (>100 mg/dL)
- Increased triglycerides (>150mg/dL)
- Decreased HDL cholesterol (<50mg/dL women, <40 mg/dL men)
Metabolic syndrome can lead to harmful changes to the body, such as:
- Damage to the lining of the coronary and other arteries. This is a key step toward the development of heart disease or stroke
- Changes in the kidney’s ability to remove salt, leading to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke
- Increase in triglycerides levels leading to an increase risk in developing cardiovascular disease
- Increased risk of blood clot formation, which can block arteries and cause heart attacks and stroke
- Slowing of insulin production, which can signal the start of type II diabetes, a disease associated with an increased risk of heart attack and or stroke
- Uncontrolled diabetes is also associated with complications of the eyes, nerves, kidneys and more, such as neuropathy.
Helping Metabolic Syndrome
There are four key ways to help treat metabolic syndrome:
- Achieve weight loss
- Treat comorbidities (hypertension, hyperlipidemia, overt diabetes)
- Consider alternative medicine procedures (diet, exercise, etc.)
- Consider pharmaceutical prophylaxis, when necessary
As a doctor, my first objective and focus is to entice a person faced with metabolic syndrome to lose weight. Weight loss includes changing dietary habits, physical activities, sleep and an often-overlooked aspect: the gut microbiota.2 This is what I call the short-term personal approach we doctors see daily now.
In essence, what I am describing to you is just the tip of the iceberg. In the U.S., our standard of living is facing some tough challenges. Our population is aging; as the population bulge of Baby Boomers snakes through the life cycle, 10,000 Boomers retire each day. 3 This results in increasing needs of our aging population, including personal and financial support, which subsequent generations will have to provide. The financial burden is daunting from an individual level as well our U.S. population as a whole. We are experiencing an escalation of metabolic syndrome,4 which leads us down a spiraling vortex of worsening health and wellness.
Do your part now, and consider the dietary and exercise changes that must be made in your lifestyle and the lifestyle of your patients. This is a good time to institute new resolutions based on the American Heart Association’s guidelines for metabolic syndrome.5
- Carr WH. A Constellation of Concerns. Chiropractic Economics, September 20, 2016.
- Greenlaw P and Messina N. TDOS Syndrome. Centennial, CO. 2015.
- Hyman M. The Blood Sugar Solution. Little, Brown and Co., New York, 2012.
- Lipman F. and Claro D. The New Health Rules. Workman Publishing, New York, 2014.
- American Heart Association. Your Risk for Metabolic Syndrome. 2017 Life is Why. http://www.heart.org.
John Stump has doctorate degrees in chiropractic, acupuncture and sports medicine. He feels that nutrition is the one area that ties them all together and makes them functionally more efficient. He studied Western nutrition while completing his masters and EdD in Sports Injury at the United States Sports Academy. Additionally he completed an Eastern Nutrition course while completing a PhD in China. He is the Clinic director of the Integrative Medicine Centre in Fairhope, Ala. Dr. Stump can be contacted at [email protected].