metabolic syndrome

Fix lifestyle ailments by eating healthy – Metabolic Syndrome

Lifestyle ailments are not just because of sedentary lifestyle though it can be a contributing factor. Not eating the right food or eating too much of the wrong variety is the primary cause of metabolic syndrome which leads to lifestyle ailments.

Shorter version

What are lifestyle ailments or lifestyle diseases?

It begins with a hardly noticeable couple of inches at the waist line. Left unchecked it beings adding a few more kilos at various places on the body in a seemingly irreversible process.

Metabolic syndrome is group of conditions which increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. First five marked in bold are the major visible symptoms.

  • Obesity
  • High BP
  • High Cholesterol
  • High blood sugar
  • High Uric Acid levels
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Acidity
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Hypertension
  • PCOD
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Fatal conditions like cancer

What causes these conditions?

The most common cause told by the govt and doctors is a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity. They also make us believe that until we don’t huff and puff, metabolic syndrome cannot be improved. We then get a guilt feeling and start putting in hard work by exercising. What they don’t tell you is that all these lifestyle ailments begin with eating too much of carbs, sugars and processed food.

If you look around you will realise that we are surrounded by cheap and unhealthy food which is easily available. Carbohydrates are easy to grow, process and cheap to sell. Plus they are the primary food base for large food corporations which make their billions. Refined carbs are the cheapest and instant energy source for humans.

But refined carbs and sugars only make us feel full. Without the necessary vitamins and nutrients our body becomes unhealthy and unwell.

How does carbs and sugars start the problems

Food consists of fats, proteins and carbs. After digestion, carbs are converted to glucose and released into the blood. This increases the levels of blood sugar after a meal which has to be taken care of because excessive blood sugar is toxic to the body. Insulin is released into the blood which is the key to open cell walls to allow the blood glucose to enter in the cells to be used as energy. Insulin hormone is also the trigger for the body to start fat storage. After the cells have used up their quota of glucose, the remaining is converted by the liver to a type of fat called glycogen and stored within itself as fat reserve. Things remain normal till you are able to consume all the glucose you have taken in with the food.

With a large portion of our meal made up of carbs, the excess glucose still has to be converted to fats. After the liver is full, excess fat is stored first near the belly area as visceral fat. This is also the initial stage of non alcoholic fatty liver condition. While the fats are building up all over the body, because of constant eating, the blood is also flooded with insulin. This condition might go on for several years will either one or more metabolic syndrome show up. Most likely it starts with a small spike in cholesterol and weight gain. Blood sugar levels show up at the very end after obesity and high BP.

The high level of insulin is trying to unlock the cell walls so that glucose can enter the cells. The cells however are already full but the pancreas keep secreting insulin to bring down blood sugar levels. This leads to a situation when the blood is already full of glucose and insulin. It is at about this time that you will find a noticeable rise in blood pressure. While the insulin is trying to get rid of extra blood sugar, there will be a lot of pumping from the heart side which explains the rise in blood pressure.

Refined carbs and sugars cause inflammation in the arteries. To take care of this inflammation cholesterol steps in. Inflammation shows up in the form of a tear in the inside of the arteries. To plug this tear cholesterol binds with calcium to form a plaque. That shows cholesterol in a very bad light but the cause of inflammation is carbs and sugars which caused the tear. Plaque just came in for repairs but was caught at the crime scene. These blockages cause rise in cholesterol which shows up in the blood reports along with increased blood pressure.

Obesity begins with fatty liver and a little bit of visible belly fat. Excessive consumption of carbs and sugars puts in excessive amount of glucose inside our body. All this glucose will be converted into fat by our body.

Finally the last one on the list is uric acid. Google search on uric acid tells us that due to excessive consumption of purines there is an increase in uric acid. However the amount of uric acid int he food is far less than that produced inside the body. The balance between how much uric acid is created and how much is destroyed is maintained by the urate transporters in the kidneys. Excessive consumption of fructose is the main cause of disruption of functioning of urate transporters thereby increasing uric acid levels in the body. Fructose is present in all the packed and processed food in the form of high fructose corn syrup which is commercially produced both as artificial sweetener as well as bulking agent.

Action plan to rectify the ailments

If metabolic syndrome began with eating the wrong foods, it can also be reversed by eating the right ones and giving up the habit of eating the wrong food. Here is the detailed action plan.

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Low carb and sugar diet
  • Nutrient dense and super foods
  • Yoga & walking
  • De stressing plan

How does it work – This action plan works on the concept of making insulin more sensitive by limiting the number of times we are eating. The correct way of doing intermittent fasting is eating two to three times a day between a 5 to 6 hour eating window. Once the window closes there has to be an absolute fasting period of the remaining 18 hours. Once in a while you can do a 24 hours fast. Just this routine should suffice to reverse insulin resistance and fatty liver condition. Consuming low carbs and sugars restricts the free flow of glucose into our body. That makes you burn fat earlier and reduces your body dependency on burning glucose for energy. Once glucose levels in the blood are depleted, the liver starts converting glycogen reserves into ketones. Body constantly requires essential vitamins and minerals to perform the core functions. Depriving the body of these cause various disruptions in the body processes. For eg low consumption of saturated fats will cause problems with the brain and nervous system which is almost entirely made of fat. Your body needs some kind of physical activity. Yoga is the only form of exercise which involves breathing, stretching and strength training. Walking is the best exercise for fat burning. Finally since most of the fat burning happens at night when you sleep it is important that you have a deep sleep cycle at night. The first step to make that possible is to start de-stressing as your days begins to end.

  • Begin your day with a walk in the morning to allow your circadian rhythm to begin and enough sunlight to reach your skin since that is the only way to get Vitamin D.
  • Follow up your walk with yoga and a bit of meditation. It is always a good idea to indulge in some sort of physical activity like cycling or gym. Do not over exert.
  • Though you have been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you can greatly benefit either skipping breakfast or dinner. That will help you achieve a clear 18 hour fasting period between two meals.
  • Your meal plate should have a large amount of veggies, at-least two variety. Restrict yourself to good quality protein and generous amount of saturated fats. You will find the list at the end of the article. Avoid packed and processed food along with consumption of fructose.
  • You may not control the amount of stress you get in the whole day but surely can de-stress yourself before you sleep.

Avoid fructose and High fructose corn syrup

  • HFCS sweetened carbonated drinks and packed juices.
  • All kinds of breads including white and brown variety.
  • Dried fruits are usually the left over fresh fruits which remain unsold. They are sweetened with HFCS.
  • Commercial sweets and candy incl cupcakes, pastries, cookies, etc.
  • Packed fruit yogurts.
  • Sauces, syrups and jams.
  • Commercial ice creams, desserts, fast food such as french fries sold at fast food outlets.

Fructose is present in table sugar, sweet fruits and starchy vegetables.

Go for the most nutritious vegetables

  • The top vegetables are karela, bhindi, beans, pumpkin and so on in the order of nutrition.
  • Do not miss the cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and raddish.
  • Herbs are those plants which do not have stems. They are most nutritious and have a short life. Examples are palak, methi, saag, coriander and so on.
  • Mushrooms are good for health and so are carrots.
  • Make sure you consume at least two lemons per meal.
  • Panner or cottage cheese is the best of vegetarian food since it is fermented.
  • Onions, ginger and garlic are super foods and should be used daily.
  • Do include turmeric in your cooking.
  • Avoid vegetables like corn, potato, green peas, peanuts, sweet potato which are full of starch and very less nutritional value.
  • Resist the temptation of buying cheap variety of vegetables which are grown at questionable locations like someone’s backyard. If you are able to get organically grown vegetables, just go for it.

Fermented food are healthy

Butter, cheese, cottage cheese, fermented vegetables, curd, yogurt and any kind of fermented food is good for health. Make it a part of your daily meal.

Quality protein and other super food

Animal liver, red meat, fatty fish and meat, eggs, bone broth are all super foods and packed with high quality protein.

The typical Indian menu is incomplete without the variety of Indian breads like naan, roti, kulcha and paratha. You also have a generous helping of a variety of dals and rice. Though you might have heard that dal is a source of protein, it is still a bad quality protein. White polished rice and wheat is again carb. So use your discretion while including it in the menu.

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