What is your metabolic health and why does it matter?
We know our blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and blood sugars are important but did you know they’re all connected? This is what’s called our metabolic health. To have good metabolic health, we need healthy markers in all of these areas and interestingly, insulin has a major and controlling role.
Metabolic Syndrome explained
Also known as Syndrome X, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic imbalances which can lead to not only Type 2 diabetes but to other serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, brain problems, cancer and more.
A resulting metabolic syndrome diagnosis is made when you have three or more of the metabolic syndrome markers. This is the body telling us it has metabolic dis-ease.
Therefore, to have ‘good’ metabolic health, we need optimal numbers in these five areas:
- Blood glucose
- Blood pressure
- Visceral body fat & Triglycerides (fat in the blood)
- Gout (high uric acid in the kidneys)
Consequently, it’s a storm brewing for your health when several of these areas are sub-optimal. You can heed off this storm by understanding the process at work, beginning with insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance explained
Insulin resistance is the common denominator of metabolic syndrome and is usually the link behind the above disordered markers. In this instance, cell receptors reject the message from the insulin, a chemical messenger, and don’t allow glucose to leave the blood and enter the cell.
The result here is that insulin rises and blood sugar levels follow, creating the very real potential to cause damage to every cell, tissue and organ in the body. In particular to the many blood vessels in the body.
However, not all cells become resistant to insulin. The main site of blunted insulin response is the under-used muscles. Thereafter, other systems respond to the louder shouts from insulin, in a harmful way.
Worryingly, this damage occurs silently over many years, progressively worsening until a disease occurs. This process takes, on average, 10-13 years for symptoms to appear and be confirmed with testing.
How your blood vessels can be damaged with metabolic syndrome
Everything that is in our blood is taken in from our breathing, eating and drinking. Furthermore, as our blood flows around the body, it is in direct contact with the blood vessels. The blood vessels are the first place our lifestyle and behaviours have an impact.
We have tens of thousands of kilometres of these blood vessels in our body and all of them are lined by a single layer of specialised cells called the endothelia. The health of these cells and their functions are determined by what is in the blood, and this is determined by what we eat and drink.
So when the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels are not working at their best or are damaged, it compromises the blood’s ability to flow to where it’s needed. Blood vessel damage appears first, followed by damage to the organs as a result of reduced blood flow and poor delivery of essential nutrients.
How sugar and carbs feed metabolic syndrome
Our body simply wasn’t designed to eat whenever or however we want. Nor was it designed for the amount of carbohydrates that are now considered ‘normal’, particularly the processed carbs that are a feature of the modern western diet.
In fact, our body is designed to handle just 1 teaspoon of glucose (blood sugar) within the entire bloodstream at any one time. To clarify, when you consider that one apple contains two teaspoons of sugar that enters the blood, it’s easy to see how the problem begins.
Processed carbohydrates, rather than whole real carbs eaten as nature intended them, create havoc with our body systems and cause insulin resistance. To break it down further, too much sugar, too often is giving rise to metabolic issues and resulting in type 2 diabetes.
How to improve your metabolic health
- Eat well and have periods of time without food in between meals
- Control starchy and processed carbs to help reduce insulin levels
- Commit to natural, unprocessed carbs only
- Add protein and natural fats to any carbs eaten
- Steer clear of all processed oils
- Exercise regularly
- Hydrate the cells with water daily
- Keep track of your blood sugar levels using a home testing kit from any pharmacy
- Learn what foods keep your blood sugar levels stable
- Consider relevant supplement supports
- Speak with your doctor about any concerns
- Arm yourself with health knowledge to be in control of your metabolic health (this online programme has everything needed to improve insulin resistance and achieve better metabolic health)
Whilst we may not generally think about our blood vessels when we consider our health, it’s clear that they’re vital for every organ and body system. Therefore, look after your blood vessels and they will look after you for decades to come.
Dr Matt speaks further on metabolic health in this YouTube video What is metabolic health
Do you have a few metabolic markers that are a concern? Make the changes to a healthier lifestyle today and halt the silent metabolic processes that could really impact your long term health.
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