Metabolic syndrome is a warning sign, and it’s one that you should pay close attention to if you’re a woman.
Treating metabolic syndrome in women has special challenges and dangerous risk factors.
This article explains what to look for and how to get your health back on track.
Let’s take a closer look…
What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors used to identify people who are most at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other serious conditions.
According to the American Heart Association, the five health markers of metabolic syndrome are: (1)
High blood pressure (above 130/85 mmHg)
Large waist of belly fat (greater than 35 inches around for women)
Fasting blood glucose level (100 mg/dL or higher)
Blood triglyceride levels (150 mg/dL or higher)
Low HDL cholesterol (below 50 mg/dL)
Having just one or two of these risk factors isn’t that big of a deal.
However, having three or more greatly increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
How Common Is Metabolic Syndrome In Women?
Roughly 47 million Americans have metabolic syndrome. (2)
At first glance, it’s equally common among men and women.
However, when you take a look at specific ethnic groups it’s a different story:
African American women are 57% more likely than African American men
Mexican American women are 26% more likely than Mexican American men
Surprisingly, white women are less likely than white men
Researchers think that these differences are due to lifestyle and diet factors.
Lack of exercise and processed foods are some of the fastest ways to develop metabolic syndrome, but more on that in a sec…
For now, let’s take a closer look at what makes metabolic syndrome different in women.
Complications of Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome can lead to a whole host of complications.
Some of the long-term side effects are:
Type 2 diabetes
Hardening of the arteries
Fatty liver disease
Limb amputation (from diabetes)
Heart Disease, Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome In Women
Women with metabolic syndrome have a greater risk of heart disease than men with metabolic syndrome. (3)
And the same goes for diabetes…
Roughly 82.9% of women with diabetes also have metabolic syndrome, compared to only 78.2% of men. (4)
What’s Different About Metabolic Syndrome In Women?
Women face several gender-specific issues with metabolic syndrome, including:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS, for example, increases the risk of diabetes by affecting insulin resistance.
At the same time, it also increases abdominal fat.
Similarly, menopause decreases estrogen levels and causes several other risk factors.
Here are just a few examples of how metabolic syndrome impacts heart disease in women:
Belly fat: Belly fat is more likely to increase the risk of heart disease in women than in men.
High blood triglycerides: Fat in the blood has a greater impact on coronary artery disease in women than in men. This is especially true with low HDL levels (another risk factor of metabolic syndrome).
High blood pressure: Hypertension is more likely to cause heart failure in women than in men.
High blood sugar: High blood glucose is more common in women with heart disease than men with heart disease.
The bottom line is, the health consequences of metabolic syndrome are far more serious in women.
How to Prevent and Treat Metabolic Syndrome Naturally
The best way to treat metabolic syndrome is through diet and lifestyle changes.
Most of the risk factors of metabolic syndrome can be corrected by making healthier choices.
Losing weight, especially in the upper body, is key.
Some of the best ways to prevent metabolic syndrome are:
Eat a heart-healthy diet that’s low in sugar, trans fat, and sodium
Get regular exercise
Don’t smoke or drink alcohol
Following these tips can help boost good HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and more.
Let’s take a closer look at how to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome naturally…
1. Exercise Like You Mean It
What can you do to prevent metabolic syndrome naturally?
Regular exercise is a great place to start.
Exercise helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, and many other risk factors.
The heart needs exercise to regulate blood pressure and the body needs exercise to lose weight.
When you exercise, the heart pumps more blood, the muscles get stronger, and the body burns fat.
Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.
However, it’s always better to squeeze in a quick 10-minute workout than nothing at all.
Everyone has 10 minutes, right?!
If you don’t exercise, on the other hand, you have a lot of dangers to look forward to…
According to recent studies, inactivity is one of the biggest risk factors for early death. (5)
Here’s a closer look at all the incredible benefits of exercise and metabolic syndrome:
Helps control blood pressure by boosting nitric oxide
Raises levels of good HDL cholesterol
Improves recovery from heart attacks
Reduces the risk of heart disease
Strengthens the heart’s ability to pump blood
Best of all, you don’t even have to go to the gym.
In fact, a nice long walk is plenty of exercise if that’s all you want to do.
Physical activity counts as anything that gets your heart pumping and burns calories. That includes walking, playing sports, jogging, biking, swimming, yoga, and walking up and down the stairs.
If you have existing heart issues, always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.
2. Quitting Smoking
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but smoking isn’t exactly good for you.
For starters, it’s one of the leading causes of blocked arteries, heart attack, and stroke.
This is partly because smoking causes plaque to build up in the arteries.
At the same time, smoking is one of the worst causes of inflammation.
Inflammation, as it turns out, is the root cause of most serious diseases.
Plus, smoking reduces the amount of good HDL cholesterol, raises blood pressure, and increases stress.
The best part is the benefits of quitting smoking kick in fast.
Within a matter of days, your circulation will improve, your blood pressure will decrease, and your cells will receive more oxygen.
3. Reduce Stress
Stress affects everyone differently.
However, when it comes to metabolic syndrome in women, it raises blood pressure and increases inflammation throughout the body.
Over time, this can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Although the connection isn’t yet well understood, it’s obvious that chronic stress makes the heart work harder.
At the same time, stress hormones weaken the gut lining.
As a result, the body becomes more vulnerable to inflammation in the gut and blood.
Before long, inflammatory agents sneak into the arteries, muscles, joints, heart, and brain.
Worst of all, stress can lead to poor sleep, which contributes to even more stress and weight gain in women.
When it comes down to it, chronic stress is a vicious cycle that increases the risk of metabolic syndrome.
So what can you do to manage stress?
Meditation and breathwork are great places to start.
Studies show that mediation has positive effects on… (6)
4. Foods to Improve Metabolic Syndrome
There are a lot of nutrients that improve metabolic syndrome, but some of the most important ones are…
Omega-3 fatty acids
Let’s take a closer look at these foods in action:
Awesome Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s like EPA and DHA are a type of fatty acids that help raise good cholesterol.
At the same time, they support the heart and blood vessels.
Most importantly, though, omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatories.
Here are some of the best foods to find these healthy fats:
Wild-caught fish, especially salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and trout
Cold-pressed olive oil
Next, let’s check out fiber-rich foods…
Fabulous Fiber-rich Foods
Fiber reduces bad LDL cholesterol and can help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Plus, most plant-based fibers act as fuel for healthy gut bacteria.
Ultimately, this strengthens the gut lining and protects your body from inflammation.
At the same time, fiber balances blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Women should eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
Here are some of the best sources of fiber:
Kale, chard, and spinach
Although fruits are high in fiber too, they tend to be high in sugar, which is a big no-no for metabolic syndrome.
The Power of Potassium
Potassium is a heart-healthy mineral that balances blood pressure.
Potassium is an electrolyte that keeps you hydrated and helps your cells produce energy.
You might have also heard of potassium before because it keeps the muscles from cramping.
In a nutshell, potassium is essential for just about every basic function in the human body.
Some of the best sources of potassium are:
Bananas, dates, and oranges are also high in potassium, but it’s best to choose low-sugar options instead.
5. Supplements for Metabolic Syndrome
Sometimes it’s hard to get all those important nutrients from whole foods, and that’s where supplements come in…
Here are some of the best supplements for metabolic syndrome:
Fish oil (for omega-3s and cholesterol)
Electrolyte mix (for balanced minerals)
Potassium (for blood pressure)
Chromium (may help regulate blood sugar)
Garlic supplements (for blood pressure and cholesterol)
Psyllium fiber (for cholesterol)
Always talk to your doctor before taking new supplements if you’re on prescription medications.
6. Foods that Make Metabolic Syndrome Worse
What you don’t eat might be even more important than what you do.
After all, you can completely sabotage all that hard work if you eat a ton of bad foods.
Here are the most important foods to stay away from:
Sickening Sugary Foods
Sugar is bad for diabetes, weight loss, blood glucose, gut bacteria, inflammation, and the list goes on and on…
In fact, a recent study found that people who consume a lot of sugar are up to 20% more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. (7)
Avoiding sugar foods, on the other hand, can lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Make sure to read your food labels carefully, because sugar hides behind a lot of fancy names like sucrose, dextrose, fructose, and maltose.
Basically, if it ends in “ose,” it’s bad-news-bears.
Processed carbs, like bread, are just as bad because they spike blood sugar too.
Here’s a look at the worst sugary/carby foods to avoid:
Also try to steer clear of artificial sweeteners, like aspartame and saccharin, that are found in diet soda.
Terrible Trans Fats
Trans fats are found in hydrogenated oils like canola, safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed oil.
Basically, any type of processed, pre-packaged freezer foods and fast foods contain trans fats.
They boost inflammation, raise the bad cholesterol, and increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Avoid these terrible trans fat foods at all costs:
Too Much Salty Sodium
In the right amounts, sodium is an essential mineral.
However, the modern Western diet is overloaded with too much sodium thanks to processed foods.
Too much sodium can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Try to avoid plain, white table salt because it’s pretty much all sodium. Instead, opt for Himalayan pink salt and black lava sea salt.
These salts have a much more balanced mineral profile and are healthier for you.
Try to avoid the following sodium-heavy foods:
Salted butter and margarine
Most salad dressings and marinades
Soy sauce instant noodles
Preventing and treating metabolic syndrome can require a lot of diet and lifestyle changes.
However, making the change could be a matter of life and death, especially if you’re a woman.
Women have a higher risk of dangerous side effects of metabolic syndrome, including death from heart disease and diabetes.
Exercising, eating right, reducing stress, and quitting smoking are simply what it takes to survive and thrive.
If you have any more questions about metabolic syndrome in women, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.