Dear Dietitian: Metabolic Syndrome

Leanne McCrate

Dear Dietitian,

My husband has just been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. We are both overwhelmed and need advice about what to do.



Dear Beth,

A new diagnosis can often be frightening and overwhelming. Once we have a better understanding of the condition, things seem more manageable, and we begin to have direction.

This may take a little time.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health conditions that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) and diabetes. According to the National Cholesterol Education Panel (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III, diagnosis of metabolic syndrome includes three or more of the following symptoms:

--High blood pressure (or taking medication for this condition)

--Obesity, especially increased waist size

--Greater than 35 inches for women

--Greater than 40 inches for men

--Low HDL (high-density lipoprotein) - good cholesterol

--Insulin resistance

--High triglycerides (or taking medication for this condition)

In order to treat metabolic syndrome, you need to work with your doctor to obtain the proper medication needed. Exercise and weight loss are other key factors in successful treatment of metabolic syndrome.

Insulin resistance is when the pancreas secretes insulin, but it cannot get to the cells, resulting in more work for the pancreas as it secretes more insulin. If insulin still cannot get to the cells, higher blood sugar levels result. This may lead to type II diabetes.

Weight loss will improve insulin resistance. It is believed that fat cells block the insulin receptors on other cells, thereby preventing insulin from taking nutrition in the form of glucose into the cells. Once weight comes down, fat is no longer blocking insulin receptors; therefore, glucose can enter the cells instead of staying in the bloodstream.

When beginning a weight loss program, consider a plan that offers group support, as this has been shown to be a vital factor for success. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats such as polyunsaturated (nuts, seeds, seed oil) and monounsaturated fats (olive or canola oil), and lean proteins. If you need more education on a healthy diet, consult a Registered Dietitian (RD) near you.

Most insurances will cover the cost of the consultation, but contact your provider to be sure. And as always, be healthy!


Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician from St. Louis, Mo.