88 percent of the population is at risk for developing diabetes, heart disease or other dangerous health conditions, new study reveals
(NaturalHealth365) The risk of diabetes, heart disease plus many other chronic health problems is far worse than most people in the United States realize.
A recently released study from researchers at the University of North Carolina set out to assess the general health of Americans. And, the news is really bad.
In fact, researchers were alarmed to discover that only a sliver of the United States population – 12 percent – can be characterized as “metabolically healthy.”
In other words, the vast majority of American adults don’t meet the criteria for metabolic health, defined as the proper functioning of the biochemical processes that allow for the conversion of food into energy. This means they are at greatly increased risk of developing potentially life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
And, although the findings are truly stunning, natural solutions do exist.
Red ALERT about diabetes and heart disease – especially for people living in the United States
To conduct the study, which was published online this month in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, researchers at UNC at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health examined data from 8,721 Americans to determine their chronic disease risk.
The information was initially obtained through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, performed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the team’s findings, only 12 percent of Americans (about 27.3 million) were metabolically healthy. The remaining 88 percent suffered from a variety of metabolic disorders, placing them at elevated risk for serious chronic degenerative diseases.
Candidly, the researchers described the national prevalence of health as “alarmingly low.” They called for stronger and more widely accessible strategies to promote healthier lifestyles.
What guidelines did the team use to ascertain metabolic health?
The team examined five different factors: blood glucose levels, triglyceride levels, levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure measurement and waist circumference.
Doctors use these measurements to diagnose metabolic syndrome, a linked constellation of unhealthy conditions.
The thresholds are: blood pressure higher than 130/85 mm/Hg, fasting blood sugar of over 100 mg/dL, HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL (in men) and 50 mg/dL( in women), triglycerides (fats in the blood) of more than 150 mg/dL and a waistline exceeding 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.
According to the National Institutes of Health, having any three – or more – of these conditions indicates metabolic syndrome. The researchers defined metabolic health, on the other hand, as having optimal levels in all five areas, without the need for medications.
Health crisis: Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle create the enormous risk of metabolic syndrome
The study showed that body mass index (BMI) played the most important role in metabolic health. According to the researchers, less than 1 percent of obese adults are metabolically healthy.
Although, important to note: being of “normal” weight does not automatically guarantee metabolic health.
Having less than a high school education, being sedentary and being a smoker were factors that inclined people towards poor metabolic health. According to the researchers, the people most likely to be found metabolically healthy were female non-smokers who were more physically active and had a higher level of education.
The researchers noted that the guidelines for metabolic health have become stricter over the years, as medical authorities have recently lowered the thresholds for high blood sugar and high blood pressure.
Defeating metabolic syndrome with a colorful and flavorful Mediterranean diet
An organic diet free of GMOs, pesticides, preservatives and refined sugar can go a long way towards restoring health and working against metabolic disease.
When it comes to fighting metabolic syndrome – as well as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer – many natural health experts credit the Mediterranean diet with being particularly effective.
As an added (health) bonus: A 2015 study published in The American Journal of Medicine showed the Mediterranean diet to be significantly more successful than a conventional “low-fat” diet in promoting weight loss.
The Mediterranean diet features healthy amounts of antioxidant-rich, high-fiber fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, lentils and beans – along with beneficial fats from nuts, avocados and olive oil. It also includes high-quality proteins – for example, fatty cold-water fish, which also contributes anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids – and spices such as rosemary and oregano to offer up both polyphenols and piquant flavors.
Important food tip: Experts advise minimizing mercury exposure by bypassing larger fish such as shark, tilefish and swordfish, in favor of wild-caught salmon and tuna. Limit your servings to two 6-ounce portions a week.
Of course, physical activity is also key to metabolic health. Experts recommend getting 30 or more minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (yes, brisk walking qualifies!) a day. And, of course, if you have been sedentary for some time – check with your doctor (and an experienced exercise professional) before starting any exercise routine.
Finally, seek out effective ways to minimize stress naturally. Biofeedback, acupuncture, guided meditation and yoga can all help in a big way.
Support metabolic health with appropriate nutritional supplements and herbs
Herbs and nutritional supplements can provide a veritable arsenal of weapons and tools against metabolic syndrome.
For example, fish oil – typically advised in dosages of 1,000 to 2,000 mg a day – can help lower harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while olive leaf extract is valued by natural healers for its ability to lower blood sugar.
An integrative healthcare provider may also recommend detoxifying and liver-cleansing herbs such as dandelion greens and milk thistle.
One somewhat surprising natural intervention for metabolic disease is buckwheat – which contains a beneficial flavonoid known as rutin. Buckwheat is believed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol – and may even reduce the “stickiness” of blood platelets, discouraging the formation of dangerous clots.
And fresh celery and celery juice are rich in a flavonoid known as apigenin, which may mimic the beneficial effects of an ACE inhibitor. In an article published in Pharmacognosy Reviews, the authors credited apigenin with the ability to reduce blood pressure.
Finally, CoQ10 – a vitamin-like nutrient found in sardines and organ meats – has been shown to protect heart health. CoQ10 is also available as a supplement, with many natural healers recommending daily dosages of 200 to 300 mg.
Of course, we suggest you talk to an integrative physician before supplementing.
The fact that almost 90 percent of all Americans have some sort of metabolic issue is truly alarming – while the fact that the situation is largely preventable should motivate all of us. Hopefully, this study will serve as a wake-up call – and point millions of people toward a healthier lifestyle.
Sources for this article include:
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