Body & Fitness

Are you at risk?

Metabolic syndrome can have devastating consequences. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Rather than a condition in its own right, metabolic syndrome is a collection of five disorders related to your metabolism. The little-known syndrome is often caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, such as inactivity and eating too many calories, and can lead to serious health problems, like diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

WARNING SIGNS

Three of the following factors indicate you may have metabolic syndrome:

• A large waist: roughly speaking, if women measure more than 89cm around the middle and men are more than 101cm, chances

are they are obese and have a greater chance of metabolic syndrome.

• High blood pressure: 130 over 85 or more means your blood pressure is creeping up.

• High blood sugar: when a fasting blood-glucose test shows results of 100mg/dL or 5.6mmol/L or more.

• Reduced levels of good cholesterol (HDL): less than 50mg/dL for women or 40mg/ dL for men is not a good sign.

• A triglyceride level higher than 150mg/dL.

YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET IT IF:

• You are over 60. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age – 40% of over 60s have it.

• You’re Polynesian – research indicates a higher prevalence among Polynesians.

• There’s a family history of conditions such as diabetes.

• You carry excess weight around your abdomen.

• You have a hormonal imbalance that causes conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome. There’s a link between the two.

• You’re a couch potato.

• You had gestational diabetes while you were pregnant.

HOW DO YOU CUT THE RISKS?

• Lose weight. Even losing 5-10% of your body weight if you are overweight or obese can help reduce blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.

• Exercise more. Moderately intense physical activity can improve blood pressure and help control cholesterol. Walking briskly for around 30 minutes a day is a good start.

• Quit smoking. Cigarettes affect metabolic processes.

• High- fibre foods such as whole grains and vegetables can help lower insulin levels.

• Take it easy on foods containing saturated fats, trans fats (found in cakes, sweets and fried food), cholesterol and salt.

• See your doctor regularly to have blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels checked. If tests reveal metabolic syndrome, your doctor might recommend medication, as well as lifestyle changes.

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