Metabolic Syndrome (MetS)

Original Image by U.S. Army via Flickr
Original Image by U.S. Army via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Metabolic syndrome is not an actual syndrome, but a cluster of risk factors that can raise one’s chances of heart disease, diabetes and/or stroke.  While, the name may be misleading, it’s called metabolic syndrome due to the impact the risk factors have on one’s biochemical processes and the ability for one’s body to function normally.  Other common names for MetS include Syndrome X, Obesity syndrome, insulin resistance syndrome, hypertriglyceridimic waist and/or dysmetabolic syndrome.

While one can have only one of the following risk factors, it’s common for someone to encounter multiple risk factors simultaneously.  One’s considered to have metabolic syndrome if at least 3/5 risk factors pertain to them:

  1. Large waistline:  Also known as “apple shape”; with abdominal obesity, excess fat in the abdominal area increases chances of heart disease, then on hips; for men: 40 inches or larger; for women: 35 inches or larger
  2. High triglyceride levels:  Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood; or if you’re already on triglyceride medications; 150 mg/dL or higher
  3. Low HDL cholesterol level:  When low HDL levels are low, it means the cholesterol from arteries isn’t being removed at ideal rate;for men: 40 mg/dL or lower; for women: 50 mg/dL or lower
  4. High blood pressure: With high blood pressure over time, it can damage the heart and lead to plaque buildup; blood pressure of 135/85 mm Hg or higher
  5. High fasting blood sugar:  Can signify early diabetes; 100 mg/dL or higher

For those living with MetS, it can lead to diabetes, yet the follow recommendations for those with MetS may help:

Original Image by Department of Foreign Affairs via Flickr
Original Image by Department of Foreign Affairs via Flickr
  • Increase  physical activity: while it may be hard at first, start by walking 5 minutes a day and increase time gradually; it’s doctor recommended to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily
  • Losing 5-10% of your body weight can make a world of difference! It can decrease blood pressure, insulin resistance and one’s risk for diabetes
  • Adopting the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet or Mediterranean diet can help one eat healthier: limits intake of unhealthy fats, while highlighting whole grains, high intake of fruits and vegetables and low sodium foods
  • Stop smoking!: Smoking increases one’s insulin resistance and
  • If prescribed, don’t forget to necessary medications to help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels

The more risk factors one has, for example, 4/5 risk factors, the more likely one will develop heart disease and or develop diabetes than someone who doesn’t have metabolic syndrome.  While the above risk factors are often looked at as indicators of heart disease, they’re not the sole risk factors, physical inactivity, smoking, insulin resistance, age and gender can also play a role in one’s heart health.  With 35% of the American adults with MetS, be proactive and talk to your physician.


Type II Diabetes


By: Nikki Nies

Type II diabetes, aka noninsulin dependent diabetes or adult onset diabetes, has emerged as a health problem for the general public and health professionals.   In some of classes, I’ve been taught that you can’t have an overweight or obese patient that doesn’t have diabetes.  It doesn’t look right, if diabetes isn’t present without a larger waist circumference.  I couldn’t provide information on type I diabetes without a follow up post explaining type II diabetes.

diabetes-type2Unlike type 1, type II diabetes affects about 90-95% of all people with diabetes.  Either the insulin produced in the pancreas is not enough for the body or the body does not recognize the insulin and is not used properly.  With a lack of enough insulin used as it should, called insulin resistant, the glucose (aka sugar) can not get to the body’s necessary cells, which is needed as the body’s main source of energy.   Then the insulin builds up in the walls of cells and the body won’t work properly.  High blood glucose levels ensue causing hyperglycemia.

Although, anyone can have type II diabetes, being overweight/obese, physical inactivity,older age, women who have had gestational diabetes,family history of diabetes and/or those with metabolic syndrome can increase one’s risk for type II diabetes.


  • Dry mouth
  • Weight Loss
  • Areas of darkened skin
  • Slow healing sores
  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent infections of urinary tract, vagina and/or skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbing in the extremities
  • Erectile Dysfunction

Problems associated with Type II Diabetes:

  • Dehydration:  the buildup of sugar in the cells can cause increased urination, which causes dehydration; increased urination is the attempt to clear sugar from the body
  • Damage to the body: with time, high glucose levels can cause damage to small blood vessels in eyes, kidneys and/or heart leading to artherosclerosis
  • Hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetic coma:  May occur once one’s become dehydrated and increased urination
  • Decreased sensation and poor blood circulation: with artherosclerosis and damage to nerves, it can lead to decreased sensation and circulation; can lead to increased infections, ulcers, digestive problems, vomiting and/or diarrhea

Common tests used to diagnose diabetes include checking one’s hemoglobin A1C, a oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), fasting plasma glucose test and a random or causal plasma glucose test.

American Diabetes Association (ADA) Diagnostic Criteria for Diagnosing Diabetes

Indicator Normal Pre-diabetes Diabetes
Fasting Plasma Glucose <100 mg/dL 100-125 mg/dL 126+ mg/dL
OGTT—2 hr post glucose rich beverage <140 mg/dL 140-199 mg/dL 200 mg/dL or greater
Casual or random plasma glucose and symptoms 200 mg/dL or greater
A1C <5.7% 5.7-6.4% 6.5% or greater

isgarciniasafefordiabeticsLike type I diabetes, there’s “instant” cure with type 2 diabetes, but it is manageable.  Constant monitoring of blood sugar levels decreases risk of complications and increases one’s quality of life.   As a lifelong chronic disease, treatment is “life long” as well.  It includes regular insulin injections, exercise, eating healthy foods, educating oneself on diabetes, monitoring blood sugar and maintaining a healthy weight.

It’s imperative to learn certain skills once diagnosed with diabetes:

  • How to handle sick days
  • Where to buy diabetes supplies and how to store them
  • What to eat and when
  • How to test and record blood glucose
  • How to take medications, if needed

There’s many health professionals, clinics and resources available to diabetics.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to said help and take a day at at time in the monitoring of your diabetes.