By Michelle Matte, CSCS
Recipe for Disaster
In adults, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, or DM 2, is often a part of a cluster of metabolic disorders known as metabolic syndrome. According to the International Diabetes Federation, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of the most dangerous risk factors for heart disease. In addition to diabetes and elevated blood glucose, individuals with metabolic syndrome typically exhibit abdominal obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. They are more than twice as likely to die from a heart attack or stroke, and three times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people who do not have the syndrome.
How It All Relates
The more elements of metabolic syndrome an individual has, the more likely he or she is to die from heart disease. It all begins with insulin resistance, the precursor to diabetes. Cells become insulin resistant when glucose stores are at capacity, and the individual continues to consume more carbohydrate based foods than the body can process. The end product of carbohydrates is glucose. Because glucose is an important fuel for energy metabolism, people who engage in regular physical activity and who restrict their carbohydrate consumption are at a low risk for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Excess blood glucose can damage the endothelial lining of arteries, setting them up for atherosclerosis. Excess calories from carbohydrates can lead to obesity.
Turning Things Around
As menacing as metabolic syndrome sounds, it can be reversed with lifestyle modification. As we discussed in earlier posts, insulin acts as the key that unlocks the doors to the cells, allowing glucose to enter. When cells are already full to capacity, they become insulin resistant. Engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week will deplete cellular glucose stores, increasing their sensitivity to insulin. Boosting your consumption of whole fresh foods and restricting consumption of sugar, grains and processed foods with reduce the amount of glucose being released into your blood stream.
Many people think that metabolic diseases are a normal part of aging, and that taking drugs to manage disorders like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes is inevitable. But making healthful lifestyle choices can prevent and reverse metabolic syndrome, and restore optimal health. As fitness professionals, we can educate our clients and those around us about the risks of physical inactivity and poor nutrition. We can promote healthful lifestyle behaviors by example, and motivate our clients, friends and families to follow in our paths.
International Diabetes Federation: Metabolic Syndrome.
Cardiovascular Diabetology: High glucose induces human endothelial dysfunction through an Axl-dependent mechanism.
American College of Sports Medicine: Targeting the Metabolic Syndrome with Exercise: Evidence from the HERITAGE Family Study.