You have probably heard of metabolic syndrome, the precursor to Type 2 diabetes. But do you know how doctors define that?

If anyone in your family has suffered from Type 2 diabetes, then you are more likely to be at risk. But there are also three blood tests and two body measurements on which doctors base their diagnosis.

Anyone who is positive for three or more of these signs is considered to have metabolic syndrome, and to be at risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Luckily, you can do the body measurements yourself.

Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is taken when you go to your doctor’s office, so you might already know the numbers. If you are taking blood pressure medicine, you are certainly aware of your blood pressure. Being on blood pressure medication automatically counts as one sign of metabolic syndrome.

If you want to take your own blood pressure, there are two types of instruments you can buy at a drug store. One is similar to the tool your doctor’s office uses. The other one is automatic – put the cuff on, push a button, and the machine does the rest.

Whichever tool you choose, if your blood pressure is higher than 130 over 85 mmHg, you have high blood pressure.

Measuring Tape Test

Measure your waist is the second test. For women, if your waist is larger than 35 inches, it is a sign of enough abdominal fat (belly fat) which is one sign of metabolic syndrome. (You can often see the problem just by standing sideways in front of a mirror and checking your waist.)

The blood tests will usually be included in any testing your doctor performs.

Cholesterol

High bad cholesterol is not a nice thing to have, but the test that doctors are interested in for metabolic syndrome is HDL cholesterol – the “good” cholesterol. They also want to know if you are taking cholesterol medicine.

Taking cholesterol medicine automatically counts as a sign of possible metabolic syndrome. If you aren’t taking any cholesterol medicine, but your HDL cholesterol is lower than 50 mg/dL, this is another sign of metabolic syndrome.

Triglycerides

If you are on cholesterol medication it counts the same as if you had high triglycerides. Otherwise, if your triglyceride level is higher than 150 mg/dL, it counts against you in the list of signs of metabolic disease.

Blood Sugar

Blood sugar testing should always be done when you have fasted. Do not eat for 8 hours before the test. A fasting blood sugar above 100 mg/dL says you may be suffering from some insulin resistance right now. (Another sign can be increased thirst.)

Now What?

If you have one or two of those signs, it is time to consider getting on a better health program, including a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, anti-stress measures, and exercise of some sort. If you have any three of those signs, then you have metabolic syndrome.

Start a For-Life Diet

Those signs are usually associated with weight gain and obesity, so losing weight is obviously one thing to help reverse the signs. There are other things you can do to help also, whether or not you have a weight problem. And the time to start is right now.

If you have tried multiple diets only to regain your weight (and even a bit more) soon after, that is because diets that cause fast weight loss tend to re-set your fat thermostat.

Your body knows it is starving and will do everything it can to keep that from happening. It adjusts certain pathways to save and store calories as much as possible, and, bingo, you are set up for increased weight gain.

You need to start a diet that you don’t stop, such as the Mediterranean diet or the Keto diet, and make sure your version is high in veggies and fruits. Even modifying the American diet to cut out fried foods and sugar and add in a lot more vegetables can be helpful.

Move More

You also need exercise. Aerobic exercise can reduce your appetite. Exercise can also re-set your fat thermostat. Your body changes from storing calories to using calories, and a different set of processes are needed to do that.

One easy exercise is walking. It is even easier if you have friends or neighbors who are interested in starting a gentle exercise program too.

If you pair up with an accountability partner, you can keep each other dedicated and motivated. Right now, when everyone is thinking about their January resolutions, is a great time to recruit others.

If walking is a problem, water aerobics, yoga, and chair yoga are other options. The most important part is to become more active.

Reduce Stress

Stress can also play a part in exacerbating metabolic syndrome – it is not helpful for blood pressure and can contribute to the munchies and ruin your diet plan. Exercise often helps with stress, but if you need more help, meditation or some alone time in a quiet room with soothing music can help take the edge off.

What is your diet plan? Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes? Do you have a physical exam with a blood test every year? Do you have any of the 5 signs of diabetes? Please share with our community.

Let's Have a Conversation!