Metabolic Syndrome: What It Is and How to Treat It

Do you often feel tired, bloated or have difficulty concentrating, despite eating relatively healthy and exercising regularly? You might be suffering from metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

While it’s fairly common—affecting one in four adults in the United States—it’s also very treatable.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Having just one of these conditions doesn’t necessarily mean you have metabolic syndrome (even so, you may still want to talk to your doctor to get ahead of any health issues).

However, if you have three or more of the following conditions, you likely have metabolic syndrome: 

• Waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men, or 35 inches or more for women 

• Fasting blood sugar level of 100 mg/dL or higher 

• HDL (good) cholesterol level below 40 mg/dL for men, or below 50 mg/dL for women 

• Triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or higher 

• Blood pressure of 130/85 mmHg or higher 

What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome. They include: 

Age: Metabolic syndrome becomes more common as you age. This is likely because your metabolism slows down as you age, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight. 

Family history: If someone in your family has metabolic syndrome or diabetes, you’re at an increased risk of developing the condition yourself. 

Unhealthy diet: Eating too much sugar and refined carbs can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance. 

Physical inactivity: Not getting enough exercise can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance. 

Excess weight: Carrying too much weight—especially around your middle—is a major risk factor for metabolic syndrome. 

How is Metabolic Syndrome Treated?

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to treat metabolic syndrome.

Losing Weight

Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to treat the condition. Even a small weight loss can significantly reduce your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. 

If you’re overweight or obese, aim to lose 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. This can help improve your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

In addition to diet and exercise, your doctor may also recommend medication or surgery to treat metabolic syndrome. 

Eating a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to treat metabolic syndrome.

Heart-healthy foods like fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts can help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and protect against type 2 diabetes. 

In addition, avoiding processed foods, overeating, and sugary drinks can help control weight and prevent obesity, which is another key factor in metabolic syndrome.

By making simple changes to your diet, you can go a long way towards treating this condition and reducing your risk of serious health problems down the road.

Avoiding sugary drinks

One way to reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome is to avoid sugary drinks. 

Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas and energy drinks are a major source of empty calories, and they can also contribute to insulin resistance. 

It’s also very easy to turn a cup of black coffee into a “sugar bomb” by adding sugar, sweetener, and sugary flavored creamers. Try to reserve those to once in awhile if you are not able to eliminate the coffee “sugar bomb” outright. 

When possible, choose water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee. One tip is to find a high quality tea or coffee bean for your coffee. You will find that high quality tea or coffee is very delicious without needing to sweeten it. 

Increasing physical activity

If you have metabolic syndrome, you may be able to treat it by increasing physical activity. 

Regular exercise can help you lose weight, lower your blood sugar levels, and improve your blood lipid profile. 

In addition, it can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body and decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases. 

One of the best ways to get started easily and immediately is to simply increase the number of steps you are walking each day. However, there are many basic exercises to choose for reducing metabolic syndrome markers

Making lifestyle changes can be tough—but they’re worth it. Treating metabolic syndrome can help reduce your risk of heart disease , stroke , and diabetes .


For some patients lifestyle changes are not enough. Talking to your doctor and making a plan to deal with Metabolic Syndrome may require you to take prescription medications. 

Metabolic syndrome is a complex condition that is characterized by a clustering of risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

While the underlying causes of metabolic syndrome are not fully understood, it is clear that diet and lifestyle play a role in its development.

Fortunately, making lifestyle changes now, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, can help to prevent metabolic syndrome.

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