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Abdominal obesity is a very common condition nowadays. Carrying excess fat around your abdomen is not only very unsightly, but was scientifically proven to increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

When abdominal obesity occurs in combination with high cholesterol or triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and/or fasting blood glucose and insulin resistance, this condition is referred to as “metabolic syndrome”.

According to scientific research, those who have three features of metabolic syndrome are nearly twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke and more than three times as likely to develop heart disease as are those with no features.

It was estimated that about 25% of the Canadian population are classified as having metabolic syndrome.

There are many risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Most of these risk factors are preventable or reversible. Risk factors for metabolic syndrome include:

Poor diet with excess refined starches and sugars
Obesity: A waist circumference of more than 40 inches (102cm) in men and 35 inches (89cm) in women. It’s scary that over half of children who are obese, have the features of metabolic syndrome.
Lack of exercise: reduces insulin sensitivity.
Stress: Triggers the release of stress hormones such as cortisol which increases blood glucose levels, impairs insulin sensitivity and promotes abdominal fat deposition.
Family history of diabetes or gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Having high blood pressure, heart disease or poly-cystic ovarian syndrome.

The Underlying Cause of Metabolic Syndrome

Researchers believe that insulin resistance is the underlying cause of the problem and the metabolic changes that occur. Insulin is the hormone secreted from the pancreas to allow uptake of glucose from the blood by the cells to be used as energy. When you have insulin resistance, cells do not respond to insulin and glucose cannot enter the cells. The result is higher than normal levels of insulin and glucose.

The pancreas reacts by producing more and more insulin to help glucose get into your cells. Overtime it becomes exhausted and you can develop diabetes. Also high insulin levels cause triglycerides and cholesterol levels to rise and interferes with kidney function leading to increased blood pressure.

High insulin also promotes fat deposition around the belly leading to abdominal obesity. This belly fat is called “visceral fat” and is a source of inflammatory mediators in the body which overtime can damage your arteries, elevate your blood lipids and end up in high blood pressure. It was also found that insulin affects the kidneys which can in turn elevate your blood pressure. When your pancreas becomes exhausted from excess insulin production, you will eventually develop diabetes.

Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome

Your doctor will usually give you medications depending on the features of metabolic syndrome that you have. This could be medications for lowering cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure or blood sugar.

Since all these conditions are closely interrelated and have a common underlying cause which is insulin resistance, it is unlikely that addressing each of them separately will solve the problem.

A holistic nutrition approach which includes diet and lifestyle changes is absolutely critical to address and prevent metabolic syndrome. This approach aims at improving insulin sensitivity and balancing blood sugar levels.

As a holistic nutritionist in Oakville, I stress the importance of a balanced whole foods diet and healthy lifestyle as well as stress management for my clients who want to manage or prevent metabolic syndrome. This is part of my Holistic Weight Loss program which I highly recommend for these clients.

Here are the top 4 recommendations in my holistic nutrition plan for metabolic syndrome:

1-Whole foods diet: Low glycemic index high fiber carbohydrates including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. This helps promote better blood sugar control.

2-Regular exercise: Improve insulin sensitivity and help with weight loss.

3-Manage your stress: Stress triggers hormones that impair insulin sensitivity.

4-Weight Loss: Losing even 5-10% of excess weight particularly abdominal fat can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood pressures and cholesterol. Check out Healthy U Turn Weight loss program here.

If you need help with your health and nutrition, CALL Healthy U Turn at 416 876 4634 to book an appointment OR Sign up for a Clarity Session with Oakville nutritionist, Dr Maha Nasr to discuss your health concerns and learn more about how we can help.

Maha Nasr

Maha Nasr, MD (Egy.), PhD, C.H.N.C.-founder and owner of Healthy U Turn-is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant and weight loss coach with a strong medical background. In 2016, she was nominated for the first annual holistic nutrition award – “Trail Blazer Award” – for exceptional work in the holistic nutrition industry within Canada. Maha is passionate about empowering women 40+ who struggle with resistant weight loss and underlying hormonal and/or digestive imbalances to get back in shape and reclaim their health naturally without deprivation or struggle. She strives to help them ditch the diet and embrace a natural lifestyle that allows them to stay healthy and fit for life, feel more confident about their bodies and at peace with their health. Find out more about her approach and how she can help at

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