Have you been told that you have metabolic syndrome, or are heading towards that diagnosis? Metabolic syndrome is not really a term that a lot of people are so familiar with. However, most of us are quite well aware of the conditions that classify it. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that increase our risk of chronic disease. Most of these risk factors are considered preventable or manageable. Mostly, with changes in diet or lifestyle. So what is the best diet for metabolic syndrome? We would consider the Mediterranean Diet to be the best evidence-based diet for the treatment and prevention of chronic disease and therefore, metabolic syndrome. We explain what metabolic syndrome is. Also, why the Mediterranean Diet works so well as a support to overcome it. If you don’t currently have a chronic disease, but know that your diet and lifestyle are leaving you at risk, this might be good advice to take note of.
First things first, what is metabolic syndrome?
More than 35 per cent of Australians have metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions. Experienced together, they increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other serious health issues. Not everyone is familiar with metabolic syndrome. However, they are definitely familiar with those three chronic disease states that metabolic syndrome can lead to. These are some of the most common chronic diseases we experience in Australia.
How do we classify metabolic syndrome?
You may be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you have at least 3 of these conditions:
- High blood pressure;
- Excess weight around the abdomen or abdominal obesity;
- High blood sugar levels indicate insulin resistance
- Abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels classified by low levels of HDL cholesterol
Each condition on its own can be cause for concern, When experienced together, your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes or chronic kidney disease can increase 2 to 3 times. The conditions are also linked. So experiencing one condition can increase the risk of developing the others. That’s why when looked at together, they are a strong indicator of your risk of serious disease.
Metabolic syndrome is mostly the result of lifestyle factors as well as genetics. The most common causes are a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, with diet being a major factor. The good news is, that lifestyle changes can help prevent, or treat metabolic syndrome.
How do you treat metabolic syndrome?
Treating metabolic syndrome is mostly about adopting healthy lifestyle changes. Focusing on weight loss, exercise and nutrition. Reducing alcohol intake and giving up smoking can also support treatment of metabolic syndrome.
An Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) can provide a chronic disease management plan to help you improve your diet. The best diet for metabolic syndrome is one which is low in saturated fat and high in healthy fats. This helps to rebalance your triglycerides. Also a diet low in refined sugar, high in fibre and low G.I. This helps to lower blood sugar and encourages abdominal weight loss.
You may also require medication as prescribed by your G.P. As your health and lifestyle improves, your reliance on some of these medications may also lessen. Generally, your dietitian and G.P. as well as any other health professionals involved in your care can help monitor you and adjust as required.
The best diet for metabolic syndrome is often the Mediterranean Diet
The best diet for metabolic syndrome is generally one that allows you to adopt significant lifestyle changes. Rather than simply being on a ‘diet.’ The Mediterranean Diet is well documented to be particularly effective in preventing and treating metabolic syndrome.
The Med Diet has been shown to have protective effects against adiposopathy. This is the formation of fatty tissue which lives in the body and also dangerously, around the organs. This fat causes inflammation associated with disease.
Also particularly protective are foods and drinks containing polyphenols. Berries, herbs, spices, nuts, vegetables, olives and red wine are staples of the Mediterranean Diet. They also happen to be some of the most polyphenol-rich foods available.
In my video below, I discuss metabolic syndrome and the Mediterranean Diet. I also share some tips that can help you get started with changes that will contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
So, what’s so great about the Mediterranean Diet?
A great benefit to Mediterranean eating is that it naturally incorporates in balance:
- healthy fats
- lots of fruits and vegetables
- less sugar
- high nutrients
- lots of fish
- less red meat
- low inflammatory and low GI foods
On top of this, another of the Mediterranean Diet’s biggest drawcards for helping to reverse metabolic syndrome is that it’s actually easy to implement. Meals are not over-complicated so they are easy to make. Recipes are interesting and flavoursome – so eating them never feels boring or like you’re being deprived. The ingredients are mostly fresh, inexpensive and widely available. Meals are appropriate for the whole family, so you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out. Also, quite importantly, there is no restriction involved. Food is abundant from all food groups, and with less processed food, the occasional treat is also there too!
That’s why this balanced, sensible, scientifically-backed diet is probably the best diet for metabolic syndrome, simply because it’s the one you probably have the most chance of sticking with long term.
How can you dip your toe into the Mediterranean Diet?
Download our free eBook of Mediterranean recipes
Why not try some Mediterranean recipes for yourself? We’d love to offer you our free mini recipe book A Taste of the Mediterranean Diet.
Attend a Mediterranean nutrition workshop
If you’re in Brisbane, we invite you to join us at one of our upcoming Mediterranean Cooking Demonstrations or workshops.
A personalised protocol for metabolic syndrome
Adopting the diet and lifestyle changes needed to reverse metabolic syndrome isn’t always an easy thing to do alone. Part of getting a personalised approach is helping you navigate a new lifestyle wherever you’re at currently. A one-on-one approach that tailors the solution to your unique lifestyle and preferences. A plan that’s easy for you to follow, and that you’ll enjoy over the long term. Make a time with us in the clinic to see how we can help you achieve your health goals.
The content in this article is not intended as medical advice. It is also of a general nature and is not tailored to your individual circumstances. If you are experiencing significant digestive symptoms, a 1:1 consultation is always the best approach. Please contact our clinic to discuss your unique situation and our tailored and individualised protocol for chronic disease prevention and management.