How do I prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome?

Since physical inactivity and excess weight are the main underlying contributors to the development of metabolic syndrome, getting more exercise and losing weight can help reduce or prevent the complications associated with this condition. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to manage some of your underlying problems. Some of the ways you can reduce your risk:

  • Lose weight: Moderate weight loss, in the range of 5% to 10% of body weight, can help restore your body’s ability to recognize insulin and greatly reduce the chance that the syndrome will evolve into a more serious illness. This can be done via diet, exercise, or even with help from certain weight-loss medications if recommended by your doctor.
  • Exercise: Increased activity alone can improve your insulin levels. Aerobic exercise such as a brisk 30-minute daily walk can result in a weight loss, improved blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Most healthcare providers recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Exercise may reduce the risk for heart disease even without accompanying weight loss.
  • Consider dietary changes: Maintain a diet that keeps carbohydrates to no more than 50% of total calories. Eat foods defined as complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread (instead of white), brown rice (instead of white), and sugars that are unrefined (instead of refined; for example cookies, crackers). Increase your fiber consumption by eating legumes (for example, beans), whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of red meats and poultry. Thirty percent of your daily calories should come from fat. Consume healthy fats such as those in canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and nuts.

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