Metabolic syndrome: The silent epidemic

An estimated one in four adults is afflicted with a condition known as Metabolic syndrome, and many don't even know it; therefore we should consider it a "Silent Epidemic." This condition is linked to obesity and lack of exercise and puts you at risk of developing serious health problems.

What is Metabolic syndrome? According to the National Cholesterol Education Panel, if you have at least three of the following characteristics, you are considered to have the syndrome:

• Abdominal obesity

• Triglyceride levels of 15 or higher

• HDL (good cholesterol) of less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women

• Blood pressure of 130/85 or higher

• Fasting blood sugar of 110 or more.

The more characteristics you have the greater your risk. According to the panel, 44 percent of adults have Metabolic syndrome.

What causes it? A diet high in unhealthy fats, sugars and calories, along with lack of regular physical activity can contribute to the risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Overweight people tend to develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. With insulin resistance, blood sugar is not effectively delivered to cells, which leads to higher blood sugar levels in the blood, one of the symptoms of Type II diabetes.

To lower your odds of developing the risk for Metabolic syndrome, make sure your diet is full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Whole grain carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables tend to be absorbed slowly by the body and help to normalize blood sugar levels.

Stay active: Exercise helps to burn fat (especially around the waist), increases good cholesterol, and lowers blood pressure.

So, add preventing Metabolic syndrome to the long list of benefits that can result from a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620. Information is also periodically provided by the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center. They may be reached at 565-4543 or 565-4625.

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