The day this episode airs, I will be just 60 days away from 60 years old. So, I want to share a little bit about what that means to me, the journey I’ve been on, and how I made my 50s the healthiest years of my life.
When I was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome in 2007, I immediately took action and made significant lifestyle changes. I dramatically reduced my weight from 289 pounds to 180 pounds, and along the way, I became passionately interested in functional medicine. Eventually, I received my certification for functional health coaching through the School of Applied Functional Medicine, and I now believe that everyone can benefit from knowing more about functional medicine.
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a metabolic disorder that involves not one, not two, but a combination of three or more of the following health issues: abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. When you have metabolic syndrome, your body is in a state of serious malfunction. Metabolic syndrome increases your risk for some very concerning and possibly deadly health issues, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Foods that Make Metabolic Syndrome Worse
- Fake and processed foods. This isn’t exactly new information for anyone, I hope, and it’s not hard to figure out why processed foods contribute to these health issues. If you don’t know what the ingredients are in what you’re eating, or you can’t pronounce them, there’s a decent chance it’s not good for you.
- Artificial Sweeteners. Products like Splenda have been directly linked with the occurrence of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Accumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of sugar substitutes containing aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin may also be at an increased risk of excessive weight gain, as well as development of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. This also includes diet sodas, which generally just replace high fructose corn syrup with artificial sweeteners.
- Trans Fats (Trans Fatty Acids). Trans fats are found in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as margarine; baked goods like cookies, cakes and pies; crackers; frostings; and coffee creamers. They raise LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which is bad news for your waistline, heart health and metabolic disorders.
- Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar. Consumption of these two are major culprits when it comes to high blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and the development of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Sugar, especially when used to sweeten beverages, is a major culprit, as are refined carbs. A recent study conducted in Korea, where metabolic syndrome incidence is high, looked at the effects of refined carbohydrates on this metabolic disorder. What the researchers found was that “the percentage of energy from carbohydrates in men and intake of refined grains, including white rice, in women were associated with metabolic syndrome.”
- Alcohol. Limiting alcohol intake is key to metabolic syndrome and good health in general.
Medications for Metabolic Syndrome
High blood pressure medicines, Beta-Blockers, are one of the oldest and safest classes of antihypertensive drugs. They lower blood pressure by reducing the force and speed of the heartbeat.
- Nutrients Depleted: Beta Blockers deplete CoQ10 and reduce production of a hormone called Melatonin. By blocking beta receptors, these medications may also block the action of an enzyme needed to make this hormone, which is produced at nightfall and promotes sound sleep..
- coenzyme Q10 [CoQ10], a nutrient that helps your heart do its job. CoQ10 life-sustaining antioxidant gets demolished by hundreds of medications, including statin cholesterol drugs, metformin, antidepressants, beta-blockers, and diuretics. I will cover CoQ10 more in Depth in a Minute
- Diuretics Furosemide (Lasix®) and Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ®)
- This class of drugs is used to reduce Blood pressure by moving fluid out of the body by an action on the kidney.
- Nutrients depleted: These drugs deplete Calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C, B1 and B6, and Zinc.
- Cholesterol medicines, which include statins (like Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol, and Zocor), niacin (like Niacor, Niaspan, and Nicolar), bile acid resins (like Colestid and Questran), Zetia, and other drugs.
- At this time, about 36 million Americans have cholesterol counts high enough to make them candidates for statin therapy. The guidelines for safe cholesterol levels continue to change so that more and more people are prescribed these medicines at higher and higher doses
- Statins reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol.
- Nutrient Depleted: Statins deplete the body of CoQ10, causing severe side effects. The consequences of this deficiency are broad.
CoQ10 is a nutrient involved in energy production in every single cell in your body. A deficiency of CoQ10 can cause you to feel very uncomfortable. It can even be deadly for some people. Here’s what can happen when you run too low on CoQ10:
- Leg cramps and heavy, achy legs (The doctors may diagnose this as restless leg syndrome and give you another medication for it.)
- High blood sugar (You may get a diagnosis of diabetes.)
- Impotence (The doctor may tell you that you have erectile dysfunction.)
- Shortness of breath or fatigue (You may be prescribed Provigil or another stimulating drug or assumed to be hypothyroid and started on the thyroid medication Synthroid.)
- Depression and memory loss (You could be told that you have major depressive disorder, dementia, or the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease.)
- Liver enzyme abnormalities (Your liver may be slowly shutting down. For real.)
- Cardiac arrhythmias or palpitations (You’ll likely be given medications to treat coronary artery disease, heart failure, or heart rhythm abnormalities.)
- The good news is that CoQ10 is easy to supplement. In addition to protecting you against these side effects, this nutrient will improve your overall health as well.
- Needed Supplement: Take 100-300 mg of CoQ10
- Coenzyme Q10: DON’T TAKE YOUR STATIN WITHOUT IT!
Blood Sugar Control Medications
- (Oral Antidiabetic Drugs), such as Metformin (Glucophage® and Glucovance®)
- This drug is the most popular oral antidiabetic drug in America. This drug works by enhancing the action of insulin and reducing the blood sugar.
- Nutrients depleted: Metformin depletes Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid. It reduces a substance called intrinsic factor in the stomach, which is needed for a good absorption of B12 by the small intestine. The longer the drug had been used and the higher the dose, the greater the drop in B12. Metformin may also deplete the body of the antioxidant and cardiovascular protector coenzyme Q10.
- Supplements needed: Take vitamin B12 (200-1,000 mcg, Folic acid 400-800 mcg, and CoQ10 30-200 mg
I get it this is scary stuff… but this is why I enjoy what I do. I love figuring out the interconnectedness of our bodies!!
I guess I missed my calling, and turning 60, it is kind of late to go back to school to be a ND or a Doc… But I found my passion, and I love helping people! God gave us each an amazing body that, given the right conditions, will heal itself.
And I will say this only because it is a Pet Peeve of mine – When you are given an Rx from your doctor, ask him or her some questions: What nutrients will it deplete in my body? How do you propose that I get off this drug? There is a good chance that they DO NOT have an answer to either of those questions, and I encourage you to seek out medical professionals who do.
My passion is to help people just like I was in 2007 change their life, but you don’t have to just take my word for it. Instead, put me to the test. Reach out and sign up for a Complimentary Consultation with me. It’s just 20 minutes, no charge, to talk and see if we are a good fit.
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Disclaimer: The activities and research discussed in these podcasts are suggestions only and are only advised to be undertaken following prior consultation with a health or medical professional. Fitness training, nutrition, and other physical pursuits should be tailored to the individual based upon an assessment of their personal needs.