What Can You Do to Improve Your Metabolic Health Now?

By Rebecca Shrum

Empowering Health & Wellness

Only 12 percent of American adults are now classified as metabolically healthy. Even more daunting, over the course of our lives, as many as one-third of us will develop metabolic syndrome, also called insulin resistance syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is defined as having three of these conditions: a large waistline, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high blood triglycerides and low HDL (good cholesterol). These conditions put you at risk for several life-changing diseases, starting with diabetes.


Diabetes, the most common metabolic dysfunction, affects more than 422 million people worldwide and leads to 1.6 million deaths each year. People with diabetes have fewer stem cells, and the cells they do have are unable to do their job properly. It is a disease to avoid at all costs.

The best opportunity to beat diabetes is at its inception during a stage called prediabetes. One study showed that by age 45, people who were otherwise healthy have a 49 percent chance of developing prediabetes, and among those, 74 percent will eventually go on to develop full-on type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes alter your ability to regulate your blood sugar (glucose). Your brain takes up at least 25 percent of all the glucose in your body for energy use. The less glucose your liver has to process, the fewer triglycerides there will be flowing through your blood.

Other Diseases and Conditions

Insulin resistance can also accelerate atherosclerosis, heart disease, hypertension, dementia, and stroke (some of the most common causes of death).

Your metabolic health will also affect how much joint pain you experience once osteoarthritis has started. People with lipid abnormalities are also at higher risk for tendon injuries, and scientific studies have shown an association between rotator cuff tears and an abnormal lipid profile.

Nearly 40 percent of new dementia cases are the result of vascular disease, poorly functioning mitochondria, and poor metabolic health. That also means that if you suffer from a metabolic disease such as type 2 diabetes, you are at high risk of developing dementia. In some research circles, dementia is now thought of as type 3 diabetes. Your risk is relative to the number of years you suffer from poor metabolic health. Now is the time to do something about it.

What Is Jeopardizing Our Metabolic Health?

Diet and Caloric Intake: The main issue driving insulin resistance and weight gain is total caloric excess — eating too much, too often. From an evolutionary perspective, this is the only time on our planet when foods have been available to us in quantities our bodies simply cannot process properly around the clock.

As many as 40 percent of adults worldwide are overweight or obese. But metabolic health is much more than just our weight. Some people who aren’t overweight can suffer from “normal weight obesity” caused by poor muscle performance and poor metabolic health.

While reducing carbohydrates, red meat intake, and sugary drinks is fundamental to preventing diabetes, actively eating food that fortifies your health defense system is known to reduce your risk. There is also evidence that whole grains, nuts, plant-based food and fish can help prevent diabetes.

Lack of exercise: A combination of aerobic training, resistance training, balance training and high intensity training (HIT) works together to improve your metabolic health and diminish your risks for insulin resistance. Exercise helps your muscles become more sensitive to the effects of insulin so they can overcome resistance. The more you exercise, the more sensitive to insulin your muscles become.

During exercise, you burn more calories and thus more glucose. As long as you don’t reward yourself with something sweet after your routine, you will reduce your body’s overall glucose stores, improving your profile for type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome.

Essential Strategies for Balancing Blood Sugar
    • Do NOT skip breakfast – Following a nighttime of fasting, breakfast jump-starts your metabolism
    • Be cautious about skipping other meals, a stress-point in today’s fast-paced lifestyle
    • Think protein, fat, and fiber – These “slow” fuels help support healthy blood sugar levels
    • Do NOT avoid fat – The key is to eat healthy fats
    • Water, water, water! – It’s not uncommon to think you are hungry when you are actually thirsty due to dehydration
    • Problem carbohydrates – avoid or limit the kind of carbohydrates that contribute to many health problems
    • Stress management – Practice stress management techniques daily, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, walking outside, gentle exercise, playing with a pet or talking with a friend
    • Move every day – For at least 30 minutes, ideally 60 to 90 minutes
    • Sleep – Maintaining a healthy sleep and wake cycle is essential to health and to maintaining a healthy weight


At the end of the day, the week, the month and every year of your life, a combination of frequent movement and a well-rounded diet can improve your metabolic health and lengthen your wellness span. Just reading this article was a great start on a healthier future!

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