What Causes Metabolic Syndrome And How To Reverse It
There are a number of factors that causes metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic disorders that affects 1 in 3 people over the age of 60. It is characterized by three or more risk factors, such as abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, or low HDL cholesterol. This condition can lead to serious health problems such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.1 2
Some of the most important steps to help prevent metabolic syndrome include keeping a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and following a diet that focuses on natural foods while avoiding unhealthy foods. Incorporating these changes into your lifestyle can have positive impacts on your overall health and help you reduce your risk for metabolic syndrome.
A modest weight loss of just 5% of your existing body weight could lead to a decrease in triglycerides, blood sugar levels, and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even greater amounts of weight loss can also help reduce blood pressure readings, lower LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol.3
Read more about diabetes.
What Type Of Diet Causes Metabolic Syndrome
The diet that causes metabolic syndrome is mainly processed and artificial foods. These pre-packaged items are usually lacking in beneficial nutrients and contain unhealthy additives and preservatives that are detrimental to your health. Opt for fresh, whole foods as much as possible to make sure you’re getting the nutritional benefits they provide.
A 2015 study revealed that consuming fast food, one of the most unhealthy processed foods available leads to an increase in metabolic syndrome in both children and adults.4 Additionally, a study conducted in Brazil found that individuals who consumed high amounts of ultra-processed foods had a higher likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome during adolescence.5
Artificial Sweeteners Are Another Factor That Causes Metabolic Syndrome
Recent studies have indicated that artificial sweeteners like Splenda are another factor that causes metabolic syndrome, as they are linked with the development of diabetes. Some research has suggested that those who often consume sugar substitutes containing sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin may be at greater risk of not only gaining undesirable weight but also developing metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.6
Aspartame Is Classified As A Chemical Carcinogen In Rats
Aspartame is a chemical sweetener that has been used in products for decades. While it may make food taste sweeter and help to reduce calorie intake, there are some serious health problems that come with the use of aspartame. Studies have shown that aspartame can cause cancer when consumed, as it breaks down in the body and produces formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Despite this, aspartame is still used in many products such as diet soda, sugar-free chewing gum, and flavored water.7
Aspartame Causes Weight Gain
The consumption of aspartame has been linked to increases in both circulating insulin and leptin levels. This can cause leptin resistance which is associated with obesity. Aspartame has also been linked to increases in food cravings, particularly for sweet foods. This can lead to weight gain, especially when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle.8
Read more about what else causes fat accumulation.
Diet Soda Causes Metabolic Syndrome
Since diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners, it is best to avoid them. Studies have shown that drinking diet soda regularly is directly linked with both metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. A 2009 study revealed that drinking diet soda on a daily basis was associated with a 36 percent higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome and a 67 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.9
Sugar Causes Metabolic Syndrome
Consuming sugary and processed carbohydrates can be highly detrimental to one’s health, especially in regard to blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and the progression of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Sugary drinks, even fruit juice, are particularly concerning, as they contain high amounts of refined sugars. Similarly, refined carbohydrates cause a spike in blood sugar levels upon consumption.10
A study performed in Korea, a country that struggles with metabolic syndrome, took a look at how refined carbohydrates played a role in this disease. The findings of this study suggest that the consumption of refined carbohydrates causes metabolic syndrome.11
Trans Fats Causes Metabolic Syndrome
Trans fats are known to contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome due to their pro-inflammatory effects on the body. These effects cause an increase in inflammation throughout the body leading to increased insulin resistance and weight gain.
Trans fats have also been shown to decrease the body’s sensitivity to insulin, meaning that it takes more insulin to properly regulate blood sugar levels. This further increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Reducing or eliminating trans fat consumption is one way to reduce your risk of developing these conditions.12
Alcohol Causes Metabolic Syndrome
Keeping alcohol consumption low is important in maintaining good health and reducing the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Excessive drinking can result in an increase in blood pressure and an increase triglyceride levels, as well as add unnecessary calories that inevitably result in weight gain.13
Read more about how to lose weight.
Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Cause Metabolic Syndrome
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are a group of compounds that have the potential to interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism, and elimination of hormones in the body. These chemicals are found in many everyday products such as plastics, pesticides, drugs, food additives, and personal care items. Studies have shown that EDCs can affect metabolic processes in humans and animals.
Research suggests that exposure to EDCs can influence metabolic processes, leading to an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome. EDCs have been associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, all factors that are part of the condition. They can also disrupt glucose metabolism by altering the function of hormones such as insulin. This disruption can lead to changes in blood sugar levels and the development of conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
EDCs also have a direct impact on the production and regulation of hormones that control metabolic processes. These hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin, are responsible for controlling appetite, energy balance, and metabolism. When they become imbalanced due to EDC exposure, it can lead to changes in weight and body composition.14
Healthy Foods That Counter Metabolic Syndrome
A diet that is high in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to a number of heart health benefits. Studies suggest that these essential fatty acids may help maintain a normal heartbeat, normalize blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots, and downregulate inflammation. This means that consuming food high in omega-3 fatty acids like cold water fish can reduce the risk of both strokes and heart attacks.15
Metabolic Syndrome And Exercise
Regular exercise can play an important role in helping to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. Being physically active helps to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and prevent or reduce unhealthy weight gain. Exercise also increases sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep blood glucose levels stable.
A 2017 study revealed that those who engaged in resistance exercise for only an hour a week reduced their risk of succumbing to metabolic syndrome by 29 percent. Furthermore, participants who added aerobic exercise to resistance training exhibited a 54 percent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome.16
Metabolic Syndrome And Intermittent Fasting
Studies suggest that fasting can reduce waist circumference, lower cholesterol levels, and improve insulin sensitivity. Additionally, fasting may help to regulate hormones that affect appetite, food cravings, and fat storage. Longer water fasts lasting multiple days can also lead to significant weight loss in those with metabolic syndrome.
Studies have found that intermittent fasting can help improve the symptoms of metabolic syndrome by decreasing body weight and reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Fasting also helps reduce inflammation in the body and has even been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes.17 18 19
Common approaches to intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting, restricted-feeding windows, and time-restricted feeding. During fasting periods, individuals do not consume food or drink anything but water for 12 to 24 hours.
Intermittent fasting has many potential health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of disease. For people with metabolic syndrome, intermittent fasting can be an effective way to manage the condition and reduce symptoms.
What Causes Metabolic Syndrome
Now that you know what causes metabolic syndrome, what can you do to reverse it? The first step in preventing or reversing metabolic syndrome is to follow a healthy lifestyle. This includes regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum. Making lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk for metabolic syndrome and its related conditions like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting and regular multiple-day fasts are the most effective way to reverse metabolic syndrome.
Read more about the amazing health benefits of fasting.
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2 Metabolic Syndrome. (2021, August 8). Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/metabolic-syndrome
3 Prescription weight-loss drugs. (2022, October 29). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss-drugs/art-20044832
4 Asghari G, Yuzbashian E, Mirmiran P, Mahmoodi B, Azizi F. Fast Food Intake Increases the Incidence of Metabolic Syndrome in Children and Adolescents: Tehran Lipid and Glucose Study. PLoS One. 2015 Oct 8;10(10):e0139641. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139641. PMID: 26447855; PMCID: PMC4598125.
5 Tavares LF, Fonseca SC, Garcia Rosa ML, Yokoo EM. Relationship between ultra-processed foods and metabolic syndrome in adolescents from a Brazilian Family Doctor Program. Public Health Nutr. 2012 Jan;15(1):82-7. doi: 10.1017/S1368980011001571. Epub 2011 Jul 14. PMID: 21752314.
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7 Landrigan PJ, Straif K. Aspartame and cancer – new evidence for causation. Environ Health. 2021 Apr 12;20(1):42. doi: 10.1186/s12940-021-00725-y. PMID: 33845854; PMCID: PMC8042911.
8 Artificial Sweeteners and Leptin; Impaired Lipid Storage and Starvation | NIH Intramural Research Program. (2014). https://irp.nih.gov/catalyst/22/3/artificial-sweeteners-and-leptin-impaired-lipid-storage-and-starvation
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15 Lorente-Cebrián S, Costa AG, Navas-Carretero S, Zabala M, Martínez JA, Moreno-Aliaga MJ. Role of omega-3 fatty acids in obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular diseases: a review of the evidence. J Physiol Biochem. 2013 Sep;69(3):633-51. doi: 10.1007/s13105-013-0265-4. Epub 2013 Jun 22. PMID: 23794360.
16 Bakker, E. A., Lee, D., Sui, X., Artero, E. G., Ruiz, J. R., Eijsvogels, T. M. H., Lavie, C. J., & Blair, S. N. (2017). Association of Resistance Exercise, Independent of and Combined With Aerobic Exercise, With the Incidence of Metabolic Syndrome. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 92(8), 1214–1222. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.02.018
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19 Albosta M, Bakke J. Intermittent fasting: is there a role in the treatment of diabetes? A review of the literature and guide for primary care physicians. Clin Diabetes Endocrinol. 2021 Feb 3;7(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s40842-020-00116-1. PMID: 33531076; PMCID: PMC7856758.