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Metabolic Syndrome & Cardiovascular Health

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The so-called “Western Diseases” that have become commonplace diagnoses in our societies are particularly frustrating for me because they are so easily prevented. Diseases such as Type II Diabetes (also referred to as “adult onset diabetes” even though it often develops in childhood as well these days), obesity, cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, and eye or nerve dysfunction all have two physiological imbalances at their root: poorly controlled blood sugar, and the consequent inflammation.

The good news is that diet and lifestyle are immensely effective in both the prevention and treatment of this constellation of disorders. “Metabolic syndrome” refers to signs and symptoms that precede the development of these conditions. In order to prevent the metabolic damage to the cells of blood vessels, eyes, nerves, and kidneys that is associated with an insulin imbalance, adjustments to what we eat (as well as how, when, and why we eat!), activity, stress response, and sleep must be addressed and maximized.

 

Excess sugar in the blood stream causes a number of problems. Firstly, the sugar molecule itself can be a direct danger by binding to proteins on cell walls and altering their function through the production of “advanced glycation endproducts” (which spells AGE and can readily be seen as the underlying cause of aging tissues!). Sugar is also highly oxidative which essentially encourages our tissues to “rust”! More antioxidants are helpful but minimizing oxidation is the first place should be the primary goal.

 

Secondly, elevated sugar signals the pancreas to release insulin to escort the sugar out of the blood stream (where it can damage the blood vessels) and into the cells (where it can be broken down and used for energy). In metabolic syndrome the cell becomes numb to the signal of insulin – much like the boy who cried wolf in the fairy tale – and both insulin and sugar levels in the blood remain high. Fat cells are more responsive to insulin than muscle cells, liver cells, or most other cells in the body and so sugar enters the fat cells and is converted into fat for more efficient energy storage.

 

Fat cells release compounds that increase inflammation in the body, thereby compounding the negative effects of excess sugar and elevated insulin.

 

The answer to the question of “How do I prevent heart disease when it’s already in my family?” or “How do I treat, and possibly even reverse, the damage that has been done already?” is simple: restore blood sugar balance (through diet, lifestyle, herbs, and/or nutrients), and support the immune system to regulate inflammation (through diet, lifestyle, herbs, and/or nutrients)!

 

Dietary changes are paramount. Low glycemic index foods, no refined carbohydrates (or any refined foods really! They serve no benefit to our bodies or our environment!), and three square meals/day with no snacking. Good fats from sustainably harvested oily fish, coconut, and seeds can have a tremendous impact on cardiovascular health and overall weight management. Fats are not the enemy as we have been led to believe for the last few decades. The right fats, and fat soluble vitamins can help your body to heal.

 

Lifestyle changes include activity levels, stress management, hydration, and optimizing sleep. Herbs and nutrient options vary between individuals and are most effective when customized based on current health status and desired health goals.

 

Whether you have a family history or a personal history of heart disease, are interested in treatment of cardiovascular health concerns, or simply want to live the best and healthiest life you possibly can, there are options to support you on your journey. Book a consultation today to plot your course for healthy aging with avoidance of the preventable “Western diseases”.