What is Your Metabolic Health and Why Does it Matter?

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We know our blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and blood sugars are all important but did you know they’re all connected? This is what’s called our metabolic health. To have good metabolic health, we need optimal markers in all of these areas and interestingly, insulin has a major and controlling role. 

Also known as Syndrome X, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic imbalances which can lead to serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and brain problems, cancer and more. 

Having three or more of the metabolic syndrome markers signals a metabolic syndrome diagnosis. The body is revealing it has metabolic dis-ease. 

To have ‘good’ metabolic health, we need optimal numbers in these five areas 

  • Blood glucose
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Visceral body fat & triglycerides (fat in the blood)
  • Weight

It is a storm brewing for your health when several of these areas are sub-optimal. You can heed off this storm by understanding the process at work, beginning withinsulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is the common denominator of metabolic syndrome and is usually behind the above disordered markers. This is when cellular receptors reject the message from the hormone insulin, a chemical messenger, and does not allow glucose to leave the blood and enter into the cell. This results in insulin, initially, becoming raised and then blood sugar eventually follows, creating the very real potential to cause damage to every cell, tissue and organ in the body, in particular the 45,000+ kilometres of blood vessels in the body.

Not all cells become resistant to insulin though. The main site of blunted insulin response is the under-used muscles, but other systems do respond to the louder shouts from insulin, but in a harmful way. Worryingly, this damage occurs silently, over many years, progressively worsening until a disease presents itself with symptoms (maybe) and confirmed with testing. 

The blood vessels are the first place our lifestyle and behaviours have an impact. Everything that is in our blood is taken in from our breathing, eating and drinking. As our blood flows around the body, it is in direct contact with the blood vessels. 

The thousands of kilometres of blood vessels in our body are all lined by a single layer of specialised cells called the endothelia. The health and function of these cells is determined by what is in the blood, and this is affected by what we eat and drink.  When the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels are not working at their best or are damaged, it compromises the blood’s ability to flow to where it’s needed. Blood vessel damage appears first, followed by damage to the organs as a result of reduced blood flow and poor delivery of essential nutrients. 

 Our body simply wasn’t designed to eat whenever we want and however. Nor was it designed for the amount of carbohydrates that are now considered ‘normal’, particularly the processed carbs that are a feature of the modern western diet. 

In fact, our body is designed to manage just 1 teaspoon of glucose (blood sugar) within the entire blood stream at any one time. When you consider that one apple contains two teaspoons worth of sugar that enters the blood, it’s easy to see how the problem begins. 

Processed carbohydrates, rather than real wholefood carbs eaten as nature intended them, are creating havoc with our body systems and causing insulin resistance. Too much sugar, too often is giving rise to the high number of metabolic health issues.

How to improve your metabolic health

● Eat well and have periods of time without food in between meals

● Control starchy and processed carbs to help reduce insulin levels

● Commit to natural, unprocessed carbs only

● Add protein and natural fats to any carbs eaten

● Steer clear of all processed oils

● Exercise regularly

● Hydrate the cells with water daily

● Keep track of your blood sugar levels using a home testing kit from any pharmacy

● Learn what foods keep your blood sugar levels stable

● Consider relevant supplement support

● Speak with your doctor about any concerns

● Arm yourself with health knowledge to be in control of your metabolic health

Consider getting guidance and support to improve insulin resistance and better metabolic health by working with a health professional.

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Liz Koh

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