On Thursday, October 20, Dr. Matthias Riedl from the popular NDR series “The Nutrition Docs” as part of our week of action here on Instagram Live from 6-7 p.m. on what dangerous “metabolic syndrome” is. And what are the possibilities of preventing the health hazard. “More often vegetables instead of meat”, recommends the Doc nutrition. Health apps can also be helpful here. He has already answered a few questions for us.
What are the typical features of metabolic syndrome?
The term metabolic syndrome refers to a combination of:
- Overweight/obesity (especially in the abdominal region)
- Diabetes/precursors such as prediabetes or increased fasting blood sugar from only 100 mg/dl
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Fat metabolism disorder (dylipoproteinemia)
What diet and lifestyle promote the development of metabolic syndrome?
Overweight or obesity are considered the main promoters of metabolic syndrome. Thus, a high calorie diet and the consumption of many simple carbohydrates and high fat foods are linked. This especially means unhealthy fats. For example, an inverse correlation applies to olive oil and walnut oil. They are antidiabetogenic and help reduce weight. Among other things because of polyphenols. A passive or sedentary and stressed lifestyle promotes the development of metabolic syndrome. Body cortisone increases weight, worsens sleep and increases appetite.
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The risk factors are:
- mental disorders
- physical inactivity
- Increase in the amount of visceral fat
- sleep problems
- Chronic renal failure
- Polycystic ovary syndrome with infertility
- Foie gras without alcohol
- alcohol consumption
How many Germans are affected and how do you notice it?
To date, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in Germany has only been examined in a few cross-sectional studies. According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), between 19.8 and 23.8 percent of adults aged 18 to 99 are affected. Among them, 22.7-26.6% are men and 18.0-21.0% are women in Germany. There are regional differences. For example, it is more common in East German women (21.1%) than in West German women (17.7%).
What are the risks involved?
Affected individuals have an increased risk of developing arteriosclerotic vascular disease. Additionally, metabolic syndrome is associated with a higher incidence of fatty liver disease and cholelithiasis (gallstones). In addition, the risk of certain types of cancer increases, among other things, due to overweight and an increased tendency to inflammation: liver, pancreas, breast, colon. This promotes autoimmune diseases and dangerous courses of Covid.
Why is belly fat particularly dangerous?
The so-called visceral fat, which is found in the abdominal cavity, triggers chronic inflammation and influences the immune system. It plays an important role in the release of fatty acids into the blood. Therefore, an increase in abdominal fat can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But also a whole range of lifestyle diseases such as increased blood fat, depression, hypertension, cancer, autoimmune diseases, rheumatism, psoriasis, heel spur, osteoarthritis, infertility, erectile dysfunction, susceptibility to infections, fatty liver and much more.
Can sufferers reverse the risks by losing weight and changing their diet and lifestyle?
Absolutely. The therapy leads to a significant improvement in the disease. Risks can be reduced. For most of the diseases mentioned above, there is a clear chance of recovery or at least improvement or relief.
What therapy is there?
There is no standard therapy according to the motto “One size fits all”. However, this requires a different approach than before. Diets are useless. Individual modification of the diet is necessary. Only habits that cause great harm or promise the greatest effect are changed. We operate according to the 20:80 principle. A maximum of 20 percent of habits are changed. 80% stay. This increases durability and success. The most common bad habits are high blood sugar, high blood sugar, snacking, lack of vegetables for example.
As a basic measure, I recommend the MyFoodDoctor app. This means that each user can understand their own eating behavior very precisely using a food diary. The application analyzes whether the diet of the last days corresponds to the objective and to what extent it deviates from it. Then it offers very specific methods that are literally tailor-made for the user, as if the user were at a nutritional consultation at Medicum. Thanks to these methods, many people have already lost weight in the long term, significantly improved their blood pressure and blood sugar levels and in some cases even cured their type 2 diabetes. With this application, we want to increase our reach and help people people who cannot come to us at Medicum or who cannot otherwise follow nutritional advice.
Also important: regular physical training. These measurements can affect both insulin balance and cholesterol levels. Additionally, risk factors such as nicotine and alcohol should be avoided. Hypertension should be controlled with medication if it does not improve with lifestyle changes. Drug treatment is also indicated in case of persistent dyslipidemia and/or hyperglycemia.
In individual cases and after the failure of conservative therapeutic measures, operative gastric bypass may be indicated. The most commonly performed procedure is the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. However, this is only indicated if the change in diet has failed.
What should you eat when you have the first signs of metabolic syndrome to get rid of it?
You should eat as balanced and varied a diet as possible. Pay attention to the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. The amounts for this and other food groups are specified by the German Nutrition Society (see the ten rules of the DGE: https://www.dge.de/ernaehrungspraxis/vollwerte-ernaehrung/10-regeln-der-dge /) . Cereals should also be eaten daily. It is important to pay attention to the amount and type of carbohydrates. When it comes to foods of animal origin, low-fat products are preferable. My rule of thumb: 500 grams of vegetables a day, as few potatoes, rice and pasta as possible. Bread then whole grains and enough but not too much protein as vegetable as possible. Beware of meat: here a maximum of 200 grams per week.
Does it change life expectancy?
Significant improvement is often already achieved through lifestyle changes. With a successful lifestyle change, life expectancy improves. However, according to studies, this requires ten to 20 years. Many complaints and associated illnesses such as depression improve immediately. The quality of life increases as well as the mood.