Throughout the pandemic, we have often heard that Covid-19 is more prevalent among those with underlying health conditions. What rarely has been explained is just how many of us, right now, are unknowingly living with underlying health conditions. Maybe you think, I’m not diabetic, i’m not obese; they are not talking about me.
Well here’s the sad fact: 88% of American adults are metabolically unhealthy. That should be a wake-up call to all of us. Because now, it should be clear that we have a real problem that supersedes covid. A problem that is bigger than covid and growing at alarming rates.
To make sense of it, you need to understand what metabolic health is.
Metabolic Health is defined by five factors that directly relate to your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke:
- Fasting Blood Sugar (less than 100mg)*
- Triglycerides (less than 150mg/dL)*
- HDL (more than 40mg/dl for men and more than 50mg/dl for women)*
- Blood Pressure 120/80 or lower*
- Waist Circumference less than 40” for men, less than 35” for women
*These numbers should be without the need for medication to lower them
When a person fails on 3 of these measures, they are classified with metabolic syndrome. For years, we have been told to KNOW YOUR NUMBERS regarding your blood pressure and I think, many, who may not have any other known health conditions, are not scared by this one factor if it’s a little too high. It is an important factor and not one that we should just look at pharmaceuticals to lower it either.
Know Your Numbers
Get an annual physical. Your labs will provide details on your fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, HDL and blood pressure. The fifth factor, waist measurement, you can do yourself.
Measuring your waistline: Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips, place a tape measure around your middle at a point halfway between your ribs and your hips (typically, just above the belly button) Make sure the tape is pulled tight, but not cutting into your skin. Breathe out naturally and take your measurement. No point in cheating here. Accuracy will provide the information you need.
Interpreting The Data
A good predictor of your metabolic health can be obtained by taking the ratio of your triglycerides and your HDL.
Anything under 1 is ideal, less than 2 is good. Over 2 indicates a significant risk of metabolic disease
5 Steps You Can Take To Improve Your Metabolic Health
These steps shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
- Limit sugar and carbs, but eat your greens. For this, don’t just go by the % Daily Values on nutrition labels. These are set far too high and reflect the interests of Big Food and not your metabolic health. Target less than 50 carbs per day and make them count.
- Avoid overly processed foods. Ditch the Doritos. Throw out the cereal even if says, “heart healthy,” it isn’t. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. #EatRealFood
- Don’t drink your calories. We need water to live. No other beverage is necessary. Black coffee is fine, but be aware of the effect that caffeine has particularly on your sleep. Matcha, while similar to coffee in the amount of caffeine, has no caffeine spike because of the presence of L-Theanine, which slows the absorption of caffeine over 5-6 hours.
- Get plenty of sleep. While underrated in our society, sleep is a vital part of regulating hormones, in particular leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness.Sleep deprived people make poor food choices. No eating 3 hours before bedtime.