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Lifestyle answers for cancer, heart disease
Ehtasham Khan |
June 17, 2005
s your protruding belly the bane of your existence?
Besides being a blemish on your figure, a 34 to 40-inch belly may also be a reservoir of metabolic risk factors.
In medical terminology, this condition is known as Metabolic Syndrome.
MS could set the stage for health disorders, like heart disease, cancers of the breast, uterus, prostate, colon and more.
Dr Balbir Singh, Senior Consultant and Interventional Cardiologist of New Delhi's Escorts Heart Centre, warns of the risks and suggests steps for prevention and treatment of this condition.
Health problems associated with MS
Consistently high levels of insulin and glucose are linked to many harmful changes to the body.
i. Damage to the lining of coronary and other arteries is a a key step towards the development of heart disease or a stroke.
ii. The kidneys' ability to retain salt is enhanced by the high insulin levels, leading to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
iii. An increase in triglyceride levels results in an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
iv. Bad cholesterol is formed due to the presence of high amount of fat in the bloodstream for a long period of time.
This invades the artery walls which can block the arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes.
v. A slowing down of insulin production can signal the start of Type 2 diabetes, a disease that can increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
It may also damage your eyes, nerves or kidneys.
Research has shown that MS can be one of the causes of breast cancer.
Women with high levels of insulin are more prone to breast cancer.
The reason: insulin acts as a growth factor and breast tumor cells have more insulin receptors than normal cells.
Thus, high insulin levels cause the cancer cells to grow more quickly.
How to prevent and treat MS
Treatment of insulin resistant state
The safest, effective and most prefered way is to correct the underlying insulin resistant state.
~ Lose weight
Moderate weight loss, in the range of five percent to seven percent of body weight, can help restore your body's ability to recognise insulin and greatly reduce the chance that the syndrome will evolve into a more serious illness.
~ Exercise regularly
Increased activity alone can improve your insulin levels. Exercise causes muscle contractions that push sugar inside the cells even if you are insulin resistant.
Also, it works on the fat stored inside muscle and liver cells (the main factor behind the syndrome), and not the fat deposited just below the skin.
A brisk 30-minute walk everyday can result in weight loss, improved blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of developing diabetes.
A well planned exercise routine also increases the number of insulin receptors on the muscle cells, thus enhancing the inward movement of glucose.
Swimming, jogging, biking and aerobics are other useful options.
Change your diet!
~ Maintain a diet that keeps carbohydrates to no more than 50 percent of total calories.
~ There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.
Simple ones are easily digestible, enhance sugar and insulin level rapidly. These include:
- White flour
- White rice
The body has to work harder to digest complex carbohydrates, so the sugar can enter the blood slowly.
Make complex carbohydrates a big part of your diet. These include:
- Whole grain bread
- Brown rice
- Unrefined sugars (like cookies, crackers)
~ The same reason can be applied for the foods with high fibre content like legumes (like beans), whole grain, fruits and vegetables.
~ Reduce the intake of meats and poultry.
~ As much as 30 percent to 45 percent of the daily calories can come from fat. But consume healthy fats, such as those in canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and nuts.
~ Women should consume no more than one drink a day, and two the count is two drinks from men.
Stress and lack of sleep can make you more prone to Syndrome X.
Yoga, meditation, pursuing a hobby and getting enough sleep are the stress relieving activities that you can easily incorporate into your routine.
Part I : What is Metabolic Syndrome?