I’m often asked by readers if they could have metabolic syndrome. This is an excellent question. Metabolic syndrome, as you likely know, is a precursor to diabetes, kidney disease, and coronary artery disease—so it’s not something you want to leave unchecked. But figuring out if you have metabolic syndrome can be tricky.
Most signs of metabolic syndrome are “silent,” including abnormalities in insulin, blood pressure, and cholesterol. But there is one telltale sign that too many people ignore at their own peril.
Use a Tape Measure to Do This Simple Metabolic Syndrome Test
Your waist size is a strong indicator of metabolic syndrome. To check your waist size, wrap a cloth tape measure around your abdomen, just above the hip bone. Keep the tape snug and measure your waist while breathing out, with your abdomen relaxed. These waist sizes indicate metabolic syndrome: 36 inches or more for a woman and 40 inches or more for a man.
The reason your waist size is so important is that belly fat is harmful. Belly fat, unlike other fat in your body, secretes a steady stream of chemicals that kindle inflammation throughout the body. Left unchecked, this inflammation can damage the lining of the arterial walls, including the coronary arteries and blood vessels in the kidneys.
If Your Waist Girth Exceeds the Metabolic Syndrome Limits, Get Your Albumin Checked
If your waist girth is larger than it should be, you want to ask your doctor to check for albumin in your urine. I’m sure your doctor is already familiar with this test, but he or she may not realize that it has been identified as a marker of metabolic syndrome.
What is albumin? It’s a protein that should stay in your blood and not build up in your urine. It is usually measured in a ratio with creatinine, a by-product of normal muscle breakdown. More than 30 milligrams of albumin per gram of creatinine in a single urine test is a common marker of metabolic syndrome. Plus, the test result is also believed to forecast the development of kidney and coronary artery disease.
What Can You Do to Reduce Your Risk?
The best way to prevent metabolic syndrome and its complications is to lose weight. If you can keep your weight to within 10 pounds of ideal for your height and age, this will help reduce the stress on your pancreas, where insulin is formed. Anyone with an elevated blood sugar level—more than 6.0 as determined by a hemoglobin A1C test—must stop the energy drain on the pancreas. If not, you will eventually develop full-blown diabetes.
To lose weight, you want to follow a diet that's low in carbohydrates. Avoid products made from sugar and white flour, and instead eat more low glycemic vegetables, legumes, and healthy proteins. Some good protein choices for stabilizing blood sugar and losing weight include wild salmon, buffalo, organic chicken, and organic eggs. On this type of diet, you can eat about 3–4 ounces of wild salmon or range-fed chicken a day and still help prevent diabetes. Your pancreas will thank you for it.