While I try to keep the focus of this column on wellness, sometimes we must understand the conditions preventing us from expressing our genetic design of health and wellness. You may have heard it named Syndrome X, but the biggest threat to the health of Americans right now is a condition known as Metabolic Syndrome. It is estimated that 40% of the American public over forty years old already suffer from this condition and 4 of every $10 spent on healthcare is related to this syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome became widely known in the 1970’s. A person who is diagnosed with it runs a much greater risk of dying early from heart disease, coronary artery disease, type II diabetes, and stroke. The syndrome is characterized by a list of common risk factors including: blood pressure higher than 130/85, blood glucose over 100, triglycerides over 150, HDL (“good”) cholesterol under 40 for men and 50 for women, and a waist measurement around the belly-button greater than 40 for men or 35 for women. A person with just three of these five risk factors will be given the diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome and will carry the risk of early death due to these other diseases.
While doctors still resort to treating these risk factors with medications, all the experts agree that the cause of Metabolic Syndrome is directly linked to lifestyle choices as is the solution. The simple fact of it is that even if you get your cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure numbers down with medications, you still have the conditions! Unless you make the appropriate lifestyle changes, the numbers will go back up if you should cease to take the medications. You must address the ultimate causes of this syndrome and these diseases which are: lack of exercise, diets high in sugars, processed carbohydrates and grains, and chronic emotional stress. Because this syndrome is such a major factor of our healthcare crisis, I will focus on the details of the appropriate solutions again next week.