Beyond the Scale: The Importance of Metabolic Health

The United States is facing a metabolic health crisis. Affecting 1 in 3 adults, metabolic disease ranks 7th in the top 10 leading causes of mortality in the United States. We’ve broken down three common terms to reduce some of the fear and confusion associated with this disease.

What is Metabolic Health?

According to OnePeak Medical’s Metabolic Health Practitioner and Diabetes Management Expert, Lisa Parker, MSN, FNP-C, MHP, “Metabolic health is defined as ideal levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoproteins (HDL), blood pressure, and waist circumference.” These indicators tell us that the body is appropriately using fat (broken down into fatty acids) and carbohydrates (broken down into glucose) as its primary dietary energy sources.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic Syndrome is the dysregulation of at least two of the metabolic health indicators mentioned above and the direct result of prolonged insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is a state of inflammation that leads to many chronic illnesses including type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, gout, PCOS, dementia, gallbladder disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity, and others. Elevated liver function tests, skin tags, and a darkening/thickening of the skin on the back of the neck are other signs of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

What is Insulin Resistance?

The body uses a hormone called insulin, produced in the pancreas, to move glucose into the cells to use for energy production. Insulin promotes fat storage and works with a complementary hormone called glucagon to keep blood sugar levels within normal range. Insulin resistance occurs over time due to the overproduction of insulin in response to the overconsumption of carbohydrates and excess lean protein. It is the result of the body being routinely flooded with overwhelming levels of insulin, resulting in unresponsive insulin receptors. But, why does this happen?

All food requires insulin to make energy and nutrients available to the body. Carbohydrates require a large amount of insulin for metabolism. Protein requires about half as much insulin but excess protein requires a large amount much like carbohydrates. Consuming large amounts of carbohydrates and excess lean protein results in excessive insulin levels. Insulin increases hunger and storage of fat in the body which worsens insulin resistance and causes weight gain. With insulin resistance, glucagon resistance develops which results in the liver increasing the amount of glucose it puts back into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar levels and, eventually, resulting in type 2 diabetes mellitus.

A qualified healthcare provider can diagnose these diseases through a comprehensive medical evaluation and bloodwork. High-risk individuals may be thin with increased abdominal fat, overweight, or obese. They might have a family history of type 2 diabetes, have experienced gestational diabetes, or have PCOS. Some nationalities (Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics) are at significantly higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Once only a disease of middle or older age, type 2 diabetes is now even present in young children.

Appropriately diagnosed, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes can be reversed with a well-formulated low-carbohydrate high-fat diet. If you feel you may be at risk, now is the best time to prioritize your health, get informed, and take the appropriate steps to ensure a long, healthy life.

How Can OnePeak Medical Help?

OnePeak Medical’s Lisa Parker, MSN, FNP-C, MHP is certified as a Metabolic Health Practitioner (MHP) to help support patients through diet and lifestyle interventions, including carbohydrate restriction.

Lisa practices at our Ashland clinic located at 2205 Ashland Street, Suite 102, Ashland, OR 97520 and is available via telehealth appointments for patients all over Oregon.

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