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Key Health

How old do you want to be?

A confluence of health issues can lead to metabolic syndrome, but lifestyle changes can reduce risk factors.

  • By
  • | 12:00 p.m. September 17, 2023
  • Longboat Key
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September is Healthy Aging Month. How old do you want to be? 

You have a choice. The lifestyle choices you make now can help you stay healthier, feel younger and probably live longer.

A blood test with your yearly checkup is your GPS to taking care of yourself. Test results that are outside the normal range are often marked in red. Borderline in yellow. Normal in green. Look at your numbers and don’t be shy about asking your doctor to explain what those numbers mean.

Do you have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDLs, belly fat, high blood sugar? 

When you have three or more of these health issues, there’s a good chance you’ve got metabolic syndrome. It’s not a disease. It’s a name for the perfect storm that happens when these conditions interact with each other and make them all worse. 

Check out the chart below. Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and premature death. And your risk increases as you age.

The metabolic syndrome connection

A study by the National Institutes of Health found metabolic syndrome is associated with a 68% increase in risk of sudden death.

So how do you fix this? 

Severe issues may require medical attention. But these simple but aggressive lifestyle changes will work together to help manage every one of those risk factors.

  • Get on an exercise program. Start slowly and build up to 30 minutes five times a week of cardio, like brisk walking, 30 minutes of weight training every other day three times a week and stretch the muscles you worked. Exercise burns fat, raises your metabolism and reduces stress.
  • Stop eating junk food. Cut your junk food intake by a third, then half, then none. Gradually cut down on red meat. Go for chicken and fish instead. Try plant-based proteins like beans and nuts. Lose empty carbs like chips, bread and, yes, that one more beer. You’ll lose weight and have healthier yearly labs. 
  • Drink in moderation. One daily drink for women, two for men — or fewer to help with blood sugar, eliminate calories and manage alcohol associated health risk.
  • Quit smoking if you smoke. Get help with this one. Free help is available

You can do this. It’s not as hard as you think. 

Mirabai Holland is CEO of NuVue LLC. She is a certified health coach, exercise physiologist and wellness consultant for Manatee County government employees and has a private practice. She holds an MFA from NYU and is also an artist who believes creativity enhances health. Email her with your questions at [email protected].


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