5 Natural Remedies For Metabolic Syndrome
Dr. Hamza A. Khan – MBBS
No doubt living with disease makes life deplorable, but one can not imagine the lives of those suffering from many. While it happens rarely, it is not far from the truth, and many health conditions can lead a person to develop other diseases. The same is the case with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome (MS) is a constellation of factors that raise your risk for several health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. While in many countries, the MS prevalence is not as high as in the US; estimates are every one out of three persons in the United States suffers from this disorder (1).
According to the American Heart Association, you have metabolic syndrome if you have three of the following factors:
- High fasting blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- High levels of triglycerides
- Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol
- Large waist circumference (midsection obesity) or “apple-shaped” body
However, the good news is that plenty of options can help you manage your condition, including natural remedies. In fact, doctors recommend these natural remedies as the first call to action for metabolic syndrome. While some remedies, like weight loss, are a no-brainer, this article takes a deeper look at natural remedies for metabolic syndrome you would certainly not like to miss.
1. Eat More Green And Fiber Rich Foods
Even if your weight stays the same, a healthy diet rich in green vegetables and fiber-rich foods can benefit you greatly. Plenty of evidence suggests that foods rich in fibers reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke in several ways, such as lowering blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, and reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol (2) (3) (4).
You should opt for non-starchy vegetables like salad, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. However, if you do choose starchy foods, go for foods that are also high in fiber, such as black beans, lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas, and fava beans.
According to the Mayoclinic — the leading source of reliable medical information online –, females should eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber daily, while men should aim for 30 to 38.
In addition, you can add fruits like raspberries, blackberries, and pears to your diet as these are fiber-rich and loaded with vitamins and minerals and decrease your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease (5) (6). Furthermore, whole grains like whole-wheat bread, barley, and oats are also ideal for preventing diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain (7).
To add more, you can also add dietary fiber supplements like psyllium fiber that have proven to lower cholesterol, especially LDL-cholesterol (8).
2. Ensure A High Potassium Intake
Besides many health benefits, potassium has to offer; the most important for a person with MS is its effects on cardiovascular health. A 2013 review of 22 high-quality studies suggests that a higher potassium intake reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and reduces the risk of stroke by 24 percent (9).
The authors of a 2011 review of observational studies stated that a lower potassium level in the blood might increase your risk for type 2 diabetes (10). Similarly, a 2015 literature review also came up with similar findings (11). To ensure a high potassium intake, you should aim for foods like bananas, beans, lentils, potatoes, winter squash, spinach, broccoli, beet greens, avocado, and dried fruits (raisins, apricots).
If you suspect you have a low potassium intake, you can always take a potassium supplement. However, know that potassium supplements are usually not needed. You can also consult a healthcare professional before taking supplements.
3. Get Plenty Of Fish And Omega-three Fats
Over the years, omega-three fats have become incredibly important, and most of the credit goes to their benefits for heart health. It all began when researchers observed that fish-eating communities had low rates of heart diseases, later linked to omega-three fats (12). Fast forward to today, and we have numerous studies pointing to the health benefits of fish and omega-three consumption, not only for the heart but for many other organ systems as well (13) (14).
Research suggests that omega-three fatty acids in fish improve heart health in many ways, such as:
- Decrease triglycerides by as much or sometimes more than 30 percent (15)
- Significantly increase HDL (good) cholesterol (16)
- Reduces blood pressure, especially in hypertensive people (17)
Besides improving the risk factors for heart disease, omega-three fatty acids also reduce the risk of other health conditions by increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation and autoimmunity, and affecting weight among people with metabolic syndromes (18). Thus, eating more fish and increasing your omega-three fat intake is the next most logical step for you.
To get the benefits, eat more foods like fatty or oily fish, such as trout, mackerel, tuna, and salmon, and nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, edamame, and hemp seeds. Omega-three supplements are also extremely popular, especially among people with cardiovascular problems.
4. Take Chromium Supplements
Chromium is a mineral that may have effects on carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism. Plenty of research shows that chromium increases insulin sensitivity by stimulating insulin receptors in the body (19). In addition, researchers believe that chromium deficiency leads to insulin resistance, a raised blood sugar level, and increased lipids in the blood (20). Thus, while chromium affects the blood sugar level directly, it also affects heart health indirectly.
Although most of the claims are anecdotal, authors of the 2020 review of twenty-eight clinical trials believe they are not entirely baseless (21). However, more research is needed to prove the beneficial effects of chromium. While researchers look for more evidence, you can increase your chromium intake by eating broccoli, liver potatoes, seafood, whole grains, and brewer’s yeast. You can also take chromium supplements to reap the benefits.
5. Other Natural Remedies That Are Helpful
In addition to taking supplements and eating beneficial foods, you should aim to avoid certain foods as much as possible. These include:
- Foods rich in processed sugar, such as potato chips, fruit juices, soda, and sugary drinks. Eat low-carbohydrate foods as they improve glycemic control, help lose weight and decrease the risk of heart disease (22) (23).
- Foods containing trans fatty acids such as potato chips, frozen pizza, deep-fried foods, and pies and pastries; as these foods raise unhealthy cholesterol in the body and increase the risk for heart disease and stroke (24).
- Foods high in sodium, such as boxed potatoes, canned soup, instant pudding, meal helpers, and frozen meals, as higher sodium intake leads to high blood pressure and other heart-related complications (25).
In addition, many other remedies such as exercise and supplements such as garlic or vitamin B-3 complex may also benefit. You can also consult your doctor for more information regarding supplements and natural remedies for metabolic syndrome.