People with ‘Metabolic Syndrome’ have at least three of the following five conditions: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, low ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and higher abdominal fat and/or obesity.
And people with ‘metabolic syndrome’ have a high risk of type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, osteoporosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, to name but a few illnesses!
They also have a poorer gut microbiome – which means they have a poorer immune system, and weaker organ microbiomes (gut-lung, gut-brain, and other organ microbiomes will be influenced) – and chronic inflammation – which can lead to more illness via the Cox-2 and other pathways. They are on a slippery downward slope.
According to the American Heart Association, a staggering 23% of American adults have Metabolic Syndrome and it was a factor common in almost 99% of early deaths from COVID-19 in Italy.
African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians are particularly likely to have it. In Britain, one estimate showed 28% od adults had Metabolic Syndrome.
Having any one of the five risk factors is not ideal, but having three factors is known to double your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Definition of Metabolic Syndrome factors
According to the American Heart Association, you score poorly for a factor if:
i) Your Systolic Blood Pressure (top reading) is greater than 130 mm Hg; and your diastolic is more than 85 mm Hg.
ii) Your waist is greater than 40 inches in men, 35 in women.
iii) Your Triglyceride levels are 150 mg/dL or greater.
iv) Your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL in Men and 50 mg/dL in women.
v) Your fasting blood sugar is greater than 100 mg/dL
How metabolic syndrome precipitates a ‘Downward health spiral’
Most people with Metabolic Syndrome think they cannot do anything about it. They may already have illnesses from Asthma and allergies to Type-2 Diabetes or high blood pressure. Sometimes they think these conditions ‘run in the family’, outside their control and determined by some sort of genetic factor – this is very rare. Smoking runs in families, poor diet runs in families, lack of exercise runs in families – they are much more common.
These people solve their first health issue by taking prescription drugs. These don’t solve the problem. The patient still has the underlying issue but now has added potentially more damage to the microbiome and more potential inflammation by taking a drug.
In other words, you have the illness. then you cover it up with a drug or two. You think putting a plaster over it will solve it! But the illness and inflammation haven’t ‘gone away’, the drugs are ‘managing it’ for you, so you still don’t take exercise, and continue to eat the salty, rich food and continue to drink too much and even smoke. It’s a license to be lazy.
Chris Woollams writes, “Professor Rob Thomas came on my Sunday Show and asked me if I was seeing newly diagnosed cancer patients already on six or more drugs. ‘Yes, all to frequently,’ I replied. So is he. Taking drugs and thinking you can just keep doing it, is an accident waiting to happen – a heart attack out of the blue, or a cancer diagnosed at late stage may well be inevitable”.
Damaged Microbiome, damaged immune system
Why? One of the major reasons is that people with Metabolic Syndrome have a severely damaged microbiome. Have early antibiotics in life and you are 8 times more likely to have an allergy by the age of eight. Your gut-lung axis means that both are damaged by the antibiotic, or even by a mother who was suffering from an illness at your birth, or who didn’t breast feed you.
Have drugs like a PPI (for example, omeprazole) or run to the doctor for antibiotics or steroids and you will again damage your microbiome. Damage? You lose the volume and diversity of your good, commensal bacteria. This encourages microbiome weakness and the presence of more pathogens. In turn, via your gut-lung axis, your gut-brain axis, or your gut-skin axis, the microbiomes of other organs decline. Virtually all organs in your body – liver, pancreas, bladder, bone marrow and even skin – have a microbiome that links to the gut microbiome.
What happens next? A decline in your gut microbiome results in a decline in your Adaptive immune system (antibodies). You have a poorer immune system, your body becomes weaker and more prone to other illnesses.
For example, people who have Rheumatoid arthritis in their hands have a higher risk of cancer! Why on earth would this be true? RA is linked to microbiome damage. Take the drugs and you’ll have yet more microbiome damage. Everybody who develops cancer has lost the volume and diversity of their good gut bacteria and their pathogens come out to play. Of course they can be linked!
Illness and Increasing Inflammation
If your good bacteria decline and you attract more pathogens to your body, you have entered a downward spiral.
What you eat and drink also controls your gut membership – one study from Holland was very clear. Make poor food choices (refined and processed foods, saturated fats, too much sugar) and drink spirits and beer, and you will make more bacteria producing inflammatory molecules; make good food choices (olive oil, oily fish, walnuts, avocado, berries, red wine) and you will make more bacteria making anti-inflammatory molecules. That’s how it works. Ideally when you eat, you nourish your good bacteria so that they can nourish you.
Many people talk of food allergies (you have lost helpful gut bacteria), or sugar cravings (you have a yeast infection), or skin issues like psoriasis and hair loss.
Drugs, smoking, binge drinking, being overweight, stress and anxiety don’t just link to microbiome damage, they alter levels of crucial hormones in your body. Just small changes in hormones can have big negative health effects. Stress can also increase blood sugar and increase the membership of bad bacteria in the gut because it can change the acidity of the gut, reducing the levels of good bacteria and making the pathogens happier. And thus stress can result in even more inflammation – from both the molecules the pathogens make and via the COX-2 pathway (resulting in many other illnesses from arthritis to osteoporosis to cancer). It’s a downward spiral. The more inflammation, the weaker the immune and hormone systems, the worse it all becomes and more illness you will have.
People who have diabetes have almost the same microbiome as someone who is obese (1). Calorie restriction can change this.
People with Metabolic syndrome have more colds, more ‘flu, more pneumonia. Oh, and in the first weeks of Covid in Europe, 98.8% of those dying had … Metabolic Syndrome. To repeat: there is a direct relationship between the strength of the microbiome and that of the immune system.
You cannot, must not, be comfortable with taking drugs. You must fix the problem. Your failure to do so, is just putting you on the slippery slope. In the UK, adult males develop their first Chronic illness at age 61 on average. The average age of male death was (pre-Covid) about 74.6. In Italy those figures were 75.8 and 77 respectively. So British males don’t live as long as Italians AND spend 14 years of their adult life on drugs. To repeat – this is an accident waiting to happen.
You should start by:
- Fixing your gut! This should fix a leaky gut and reduce inflammation; Kill the bad and replenish the good.
- Adopting a Rainbow Diet. This will increase the numbers of good bacteria making anti-inflammatory molecules; and the soluble fibre will reduce inflammation and lower food consumption and inflammation
- And employing Time Restricted Fasting (eating nothing between 6 pm and 10 am). This alone will cause weight loss, lowered blood sugar, lowered insulin, lowered cholesterol and lowered inflammation.
Let’s amplify this a little:
Change your Lifestyle to reduce Metabolic Syndrome
1. Eat better – crucial beneficial changes are simple.
Cut down on bad fats – trans fats in processed foods, saturated fat foods like red meat bacon, salami, coconut oil and dairy. Switch from saturated fat and seed oils (rich in omega 6) to unsaturated fat – avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, fish oils, walnuts (rich in omega 3, ellagitannin etc)
Cut out sugar – after 10-14 days, you will feel a big difference. See here for the benefits.
Eat a high fibre Rainbow Diet – more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses and whole grains. These foods, along with the increases in good gut bacteria, influence hormones such as Leptin which control certain metabolic factors in metabolic syndrome.
2. Eat slower – People who eat their food quickly and rush their meals are at a greater risk of metabolic syndrome.
3. Fast – Time restricted fasting (where you only eat for 8 hours a day, and eat less calories during that time) or Intermittent fast (where you eat for 5 days and fast for two) each reduce blood sugar, blood insulin and cholesterol levels, and reduce weight.
4. Take exercise – Aerobic exercise is vital to beat metabolic syndrome – do it at least 4 times a week and, ideally, every day. Ultimately, exercise should build up to be 45-60 minutes induration including 20 minutes where you are physically out of breath. Exercise even without weight loss can reduce insulin resistance (2). Start by buying am ‘exercise’ watch, or using your phone to measure your daily ‘steps’. Get above 7,000 (50,000 for the week), then move your target to 10,000, then ideally 15,000 per day.
5. Control Stress – Stress Hormones have an over-riding effect on other hormones in your body. Exercise produces endorphins – yoga is the greatest producer per minute. Meditation and prayer produce opioids. Endorphins and opioids work together to reduce and control stress hormones. There are also ‘adaptogenic’ herbs such as Ashwagandha and Boswellia, which can reduce stress hormones and thus correct the balance of others. Go to bed earlier – we covered research on people going to bed late having more ‘stress hormones, more metabolic disease and more heart problems.
6. Don’t smoke, cut alcohol (except red wine), cut salt – obvious really!
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- Obesity, diabetes, and the gut microbiome: an updated review – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30791839/
- Exercise Training and Insulin Resistance: A Current Review – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4625541/