Dr. Lori Horan Soule, ND, LAc

Soule Health Care

3526 SW Corbett

Portland OR, 97239


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Newsletter Archive

Could your weight problem be part of a metabolic syndrome

September 29, 2011

People hate being overweight for all the wrong reasons. They think they don't look good or their clothes don't fit well. They are worried about what their friends or family think. What they may not be aware of is how much health danger they could be in from being overweight.

Metabolic Syndrome - Metabolic Syndrome (also known as Syndrome X) is a cluster of symptoms that describes the health condition of up to 75 million people in the US, many of whom are unaware of it. It is characterized by abdominal obesity, with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high levels of insulin in the bloodstream (a pre-diabetic state). Together, these symptoms are seen as a powerful predictor of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and many other symptoms of aging.

Inflammation - It has recently been discovered that fat cells actually produce inflammatory mediators. Uncontrolled and damaging, these inflammatory mediators can cross tissues and cause problems in nearly every major organ system. In the cardiovascular system, inflammation can take the form of atherosclerosis. In the gastrointestinal system, it can look like an irritable bowel. In the skeletal system, it can take the form of osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis. Of course, a person doesn't have to be overweight for these health conditions to occur, but being overweight increases the likelihood and severity of these inflammatory conditions somewhere in the body.

Assess Your Risk Factors - If you have a family history of diseases related to insulin resistance, such as heart attack, hypertension and type 2 diabetes, you have a much greater chance of developing Metabolic Syndrome. As important as genetics are, lifestyle factors such as improper diet, lack of physical activity and cigarette smoking are even more important. The fact that our behavior plays a role in the syndrome is good and bad news. We can't alter our genetic heritage, but we can change our diets and daily habits.

Lifestyle evaluation and lab testing are valuable components to determining how much your weight problem is part of the Metabolic Syndrome. We can assess your complete cardiovascular profile, which includes not just the usual cholesterol values but the increasingly important C-Reactive Protein (a marker for inflammation in the body) and homocysteine (an enzyme that is toxic to arterial walls). Calculating your Body Mass Index is another important indicator of whether your weight is actually considered dangerous to your health.

Weight Loss - Most people who are overweight have some history with dieting, some degree of success in that area, but eventually failure. If you have Metabolic Syndrome, you MUST be on a diet that will lower your insulin levels or you cannot lose weight. The popular low-fat approach to weight loss is now seen as the most dangerous diet for anyone who is overweight with heart disease risk factors. If you are concerned about your total cholesterol level and try to control it by eating less fat, this is not a bad idea, but restricting these foods will not lower elevated insulin levels. Your optimal diet must include specific strategies for keeping your blood sugar balanced with protein, nutrient-rich carbohydrates, and fiber, or your insulin levels will remain high and continue to promote weight gain.

The great news about eating to improve your metabolic health is that excess weight comes off as a welcome by-product. Treating the insulin problem hits the core of the Metabolic Syndrome and it treats all the other symptoms that make up Syndrome X, helping you lose weight, leaving you feeling better, more vibrant, and much more likely to live a longer healthier life.

Adequate diagnosis and treatment for Metabolic Syndrome means you may finally be able to shed those unwanted pounds.

Besides looking better in your clothes, more importantly, your bathing suit, you'll reduce your risk of this progressive, silent and lethal condition. If you are overweight and have some history of heart disease or type 2 diabetes in your family, call Dr. Horan for your Metabolic Syndrome evaluation and treatment today.

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