Metabolic Syndrome Diet 101
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Exploring the relationship between Metabolic Syndrome and lifestyle 

What is Metabolic Syndrome Diet

Have you heard the term “Metabolic Syndrome” before but were left wondering what exactly it means? In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the definition of Metabolic Syndrome and provide three suggestions to help you reduce your chance of developing the risk factors.  

What is Metabolic Syndrome?  

Metabolic Syndrome is a group of health conditions that, when left untreated, can raise the risk of many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Metabolic Syndrome is often the result of insulin resistance. To be diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome, an individual must have at least three of the following: 

  • High blood pressure (≥ 130/85 mm Hg, or receiving medication) 
  • High blood glucose levels (≥ 5.6 mmol/L, or receiving medication) 
  • High triglycerides (≥ 1.7 mmol/L, or receiving medication) 
  • Low HDL-Cholesterol (< 1.0 mmol/L in men or < 1.3 mmol/L in women) 
  • Large waist circumference (≥ 102 cm in men, 88 cm in women; ranges vary according to ethnicity) 

It is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 Canadians meet this diagnosis criteria, many without knowing. The good news is, the risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome can be greatly decreased with simple lifestyle changes in diet and exercise. Keep reading below to find out more!  

How to Reduce the Risk for Metabolic Syndrome 

Are you wondering what the best diet is for metabolic syndrome or how to reduce your chance of developing some of the risk factors? Here are three ways to help you make healthful and informed changes to support your health 

How to beat the winter blues physical activity and walking
Healthy Eating

1. Eat according to the Mediterranean diet  

There is not a specific Metabolic Syndrome diet, however, various studies have shown that an eating pattern similar to the Mediterranean diet is the most beneficial for the prevention and management of Metabolic Syndrome.  

The Mediterranean-style diet typically includes: 

  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables  
  • Complex carbohydrates from legumes and whole grains 
  • Olive oil is the primary fat source  
  • Protein choices come mostly from fish, nuts, and seeds, moderately from eggs, dairy, and poultry, and little from red meat 
  • Limiting foods with refined carbohydrates, added sugars, saturated fats, and processed foods 

Research has shown eating the Mediterranean diet can result in improvements in blood pressure, the blood lipid profile, and insulin resistance reduction. This is due to the high fiber, high monounsaturated fat (or healthy fats), and low saturated fats found in this style of eating.  

Looking for some recipe inspiration? Check out these fun Mediterranean-inspired recipes! 

Mediterranean Chicken Kebabs 

Mediterranean Pasta Salad  

Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado Salad  

2. Move your body  

Studies researching the conditions associated with Metabolic Syndrome have seen reverses in the metabolic abnormalities of insulin resistance, increases in insulin sensitivity, and reduction in blood pressure with regular aerobic physical activity (at least 3 times per week). Examples of aerobic activities are walking, biking, swimming, hiking, dancing, rowing, etc.  

Beyond this, physical activity has many other great benefits, such as increased myocardial oxygen supply (oxygen supplied to the heart), strengthening muscles and bones, improved brain health, stress relief, and we can’t forget, it can be fun!  

So, whether your go-to movement is bike riding, hiking, playing sports, dancing, etc., choose to commit to moving your body regularly, aiming for 3 times per week for at least 30 minutes. A quick tip: start with activities you actually enjoy doing! It doesn’t always have to look like going to the gym. Explore new activities, join a recreational sports team, take a bike ride around your neighbourhood, and be creative! This makes it easier and more realistic to stick with a movement goal.

Riding Bikes

3. Achieve your best weight  

Finding your personal best weight is just that, personal to you! There are many factors that influence our weight with some factors we can change, like diet and exercise, and some that we can’t, such our age, gender, personal genetics, family history, and some medical conditions.  

If you are carrying extra weight, weight loss of 5-10% can be an effective way of managing blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. 

Some tips to get you started: 

  • At meals, divide your plate into 3. Fill ½ your plate with vegetables, ¼ with whole grains and/or starches, and ¼ with protein (such as fish, legumes, nuts, eggs, or poultry) 
  • Get enough sleep  
  • Manage your stress and emotions in a healthy way  
  • Move your body in ways you enjoy  
  • Slow down and eat more mindfully. Remove distractions at meal or snack times and serve your food on a plate or in a bowl instead of a bag. Work with your dietitian on strategies to tackle emotional eating.  

For more support, see a registered dietitian to help guide you towards your personal best weight.

Looking for further support in making lifestyle changes to manage metabolic syndrome through a healthy diet? We can help!  

Are you unsure of where to start or are feeling stuck along the way? Get connected with one of our registered dietitians who specialized in metabolic syndrome that can support you on your journey. We have a team of experienced dietitians who are passionate about walking along side you and to find personalized solutions to meet your nutrition challenges.

Check out these related blogs on our website:  

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Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
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I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
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