By Acupuncturist Dr. Jeannette “Jett” Kerns, AP, DOM, L.Ac., St. Cloud, FL owner of East Lake Acupuncture
Your skin is an organ, but did you know your fat is an organ too? Scientists recently discovered that fat tissue is an endocrine organ, responsible for storing and releasing hormones and inflammatory molecules, which affect the metabolism and overall health.
5 Metabolic Syndrome Signs
1. Concentrated weight around the middle (Above 35” in women and 40” in men)
2. Elevated blood pressure (over 130/85)
3. A fasting blood sugar (over 100 mg/dl)
4. Elevated triglycerides (over 150 mg/dl)
5. Low HDL (Under 50 mg/dl in women or 40 mg/dl in men)
Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors
· Obesity – Stomach fat produces high levels of inflammatory molecules and stores and releases hormones, which affect inflammation and metabolism. Basically, fat makes us fat, tired, achy and hormonal.
· Age—The older we are the more inflammatory molecules we have in our body. This is due to the more time we’ve had to become exposed to environmental toxins (secondhand smoke, food additives, air pollution, etc.).
· Diet—Diets high in saturated fats will cause massive inflammation in the body, more so for those overweight or whom have diabetes.
· Smoking—In addition to causing cancer and emphysema, cigarettes also increase inflammation while simultaneously reducing the number of anti-inflammatory molecules. One of the first signs this has become a problem is the development of gum disease.
· Gum Health—This is a scary one. Gum disease can produce a systemic inflammatory response that can damage the kidneys and heart, causing reduced function. If your gums bleed, this may be a sign of serious underlying conditions.
· Stress Levels—All stress (emotional or physical), has a huge impact on the body. This is because stress alerts the body that something is wrong, triggering the release of stress hormones (cortisol), which will in turn lead to weight gain and sleep problems.
· Sleep—Sleep is one of the most important needs of our body, yet the most overlooked. Lack of adequate (7-8 hours) rest will cause many health problems including increased production of pro-inflammatory molecules and increased fasting glucose levels in the morning.
· Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure and Triglycerides—When all three are elevated they are indicators of systemic inflammation and are the primary components of a metabolic syndrome diagnosis. Luckily, these risks can be reduced and often reversed.
In a nutshell, metabolic syndrome is the result of long-term chronic inflammation, which can occur for years without our being aware of the symptoms, silently causing disease and irreparable damage.
Dangers: Research shows that systemic inflammation plays a direct role in type II diabetes, hormonal imbalance, heart disease and cancer in addition to predisposing people to other diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and fibromyalgia. Additionally, it’s a feature of arthritis, IBD, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, pancreatitis, psoriasis and much more.
Testing: Diagnosis requires a series of tests. Unfortunately, standard blood tests are unlikely to be enough. We recommend finding a doctor experienced with management of metabolic syndrome and that offers blood, urine and saliva testing.
Treatment: It’s not enough to simply be diagnosed. Recovery takes time and guidance. Physician-supervised treatment plans based upon an individual’s symptoms and lab results are critical. I use a functional approach to help my patients and recommend finding a functional medical provider in your area. If you live in the Osceola area, I’d be honored to be a part of your journey to better health and wellness.