Metabolic Syndrome refers to a group of related metabolic abnormalities that manifest in multiple body systems. These defective metabolic processes, which happen at tissue level, present themselves as chronic health disorders. Metabolic Syndrome or MS is often regarded as a progressive disease, which poses serious health risk for heart, liver, and kidneys.
Metabolic Syndrome is a global epidemic which affects around 230 million people all over the world. Nowadays, MS has gained serious attention especially by physicians and researchers. Metabolic Syndrome includes following metabolic disorder symptoms:
- Hyperglycemia or High Blood Sugar Levels
- Insulin Resistance
- High blood pressure or Hypertension
- Dyslipidemia or High lipid profile
MS was formerly known as Syndrome X. That name was proposed by Reaven in 1988 in a lecture of American Diabetes Association. Syndrome X included conditions such as: hyper-insulinemia, glucose intolerance, hyperglycemia, elevated low density lipoproteins, and hypertension. These conditions can lead to coronary artery disease (CAD). In 1998, WHO introduced the term and definition for Metabolic Syndrome.
What are the criteria for Metabolic Syndrome?
According to WHO, Metabolic Syndrome is classified as a group of related biomarkers that fall outside the normal range.
- Postprandial blood sugar > 140- 199 mg / dl or insulin resistance +2 or more.
- Blood pressure > 140/90 mmHg
- Triglycerides>150 mg/dl
- High density lipoproteins (HDL) males <35 mg/ dl, females <39 mg/ dl
- BMI >30 kg/ m2
- Urinary albumin excretion >20 microgram per minute.
What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?
Energy excess on a consistent basis is one of the primary causes of MS. It usually results from a group of activities that are performed together frequently to overload and eventually hamper the functioning of our body.
- Regular consumption of high calorie, heavily processed, and synthetic foods that are devoid of nutrition.
- A sedentary lifestyle, meaning lack or absence of physical activity.
- Excessive consumption of energy dense foods rich in simple carbohydrates, proteins, and refined or processed fats.
- Absence or lack of micronutrients such as Vitamins, Minerals, Fibre, and Antioxidants in the diet. These micronutrients are present in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Excessive mental stress.
What are the Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome?
One of the biggest nutritional problems in developing countries relates to under nourishment or absence of enough food. Even though MS is a health problem caused by over nutrition, it is quite ironical that even developing countries have a problem of MS!
- In the developing world, MS is spreading as a result of regular indulgence in heavily processed and synthetic foods that are rich in macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- Such foods are much cheaper and convenient, but lack the micronutrients such as Vitamins, Minerals, Enzymes, and Antioxidants that our body needs to function well.
- A constant intake of macronutrients overloads the body organs such as the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, which eventually get exhausted and give up.
- Additionally, absence of micronutrients further lowers down the our body’s capacity to mobilise excessive macronutrients.
- This results in build up of toxins in the body and triggers inflammatory response towards them through our Immune System.
- Such build up of toxins happens in the fats cells in liver, resulting in fatty liver , in the arteries in the form of atherosclerosis and hypertension, in the blood as high blood sugar levels or Diabetes.
Pathogenesis: Development and Progression of MS
- The pathogenesis of MS is complex, but central obesity is the main cause. Excessive carbohydrates and fats intake lead to abnormal visceral adiposity.
- This initiates cytokines mediated pro-inflammatory processes.
- Thus it leads to excessive formation of free fatty acids (FFA), which occupies insulin receptors.
- This leads to insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus.
- The prognosis of Metabolic Syndrome can lead to cardiovascular disorders.
MS in Ayurveda: A Disease of Over Nutrition and Faulty Fat Metabolism
Ayurveda describes MS to comprise of diseases that result from over nutrition and defective tissue metabolism. It is termed as Santarpanjanya. Excessive consumption of heavy foods on regular basis slows down the digestive fire or Agni of the body.
Fats or body lipids are present in every body tissue and they participate in critical body systems such as transportation of nutrients, storage of energy, and creation of cell membrane structure and walls.
In Ayurveda, fats are termed as Meda Dhatu and the related digestive fire that produces fat cells in the body is termed as Medodhatvagni. Poor fat metabolism or Manda Medodhatvagni, results in generation and storage of harmful lipids such as LDL cholesterol. This triggers the peripheral Metaolic Syndrome disease symptoms.
Samprapti Ghataka – Pathological Factors
A built of toxins in the body that blocks the channels body organs is termed as Ama in Ayurveda. Ama results from deposition of undigested foods, or fats, or foreign bodies in the body.
In Ayurveda, ama is considered to be the primary reason behind all inflammatory diseases. When Ama interacts with fatty tissues such as cholesterol, it disrupts the structure and role of body lipids.
This is termed as Sama Meda Dhatu or unhealthy and bad lipids. It is also known as dyslipidemia, one of the primary triggers for metabolic malfunctioning in the tissues.
Understanding MS through the flow of Dosha – The dynamic forces of life!
- Kapha Dosha plays important role at time of accumulation of Ama dosa as central obesity, hyperglycemia, and dyslipidemia.
- Pitta Dosha plays role in stage of vitiation and localization of Ama dosas.
- Vata Dosha can create a state of Avrita Vata which provokes Agni and increases demand for food (Abhyavaharana Shakti) and absorbs nutrients. Also, Vata causes inactivation of Vyana vayu so nutrients cannot be carried properly to their respective Dhatu.
Can you reverse Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic Syndrome can be reversed in certain cases, where symptoms are at initial stage by adoption of a strict diet and lifestyle and avoidance of the causative factors. This will result in slow but steady changes involving weight loss and withdrawal of MS symptoms.
However, reversal may not be possible when MS symptoms and related chronic disorders have progressed to later stages. For patients suffering from intense MS symptoms, management is prescribed with appropriate changes in diet and lifestyle.
These measures are not very drastic but introduced slowly as the patient’s body is weak to handle big changes.
A patient’s condition is assessed based on their gender, age, progression of MS diseases, and their body strength. Specific reversal or management of Metabolic Syndrome is prescribed accordingly.
Natural Remedies and Herbs for Metabolic Syndrome
One of the most important and first steps towards treatment of MS is avoidance of the causes and triggers. It is termed as “Nidana Parivarjana” or to avoid risk factors related to faulty diet and lifestyle.
Additional use of therapeutic herbs and foods along with corrective lifestyle practices involving yoga and daily routine are prescribed to manage and reverse Metabolic Syndrome.
Don’ts – Foods and Lifestyle Practices
- Avoid Oily (Snigdha), Heavy (Guru), and Unctuous (Picchila) food items. This includes energy dense foods in modern nutrition terminology.
- Avoid over eating, “Atiasan”. According to Ayurvedic principles of diet, one should fill 2/3rd of their full capacity to eat, or the sense of feeling full.
- Avoid day time sleeping. Sleeping for long hours during day time is considered to promote Kapha Dosha and hence worsen MS symptoms and health condition.
- Do not sleep right after food intake. One should sit in Vajrasna or sit on the ground with folded knees to allow proper assimilation of food
- Stop alcohol intake (Madyapana). When suffering from MS, one should not indulge even in occasional drinking as Alcohol accelerates progression of MS.
- Do not smoke as smoking promotes acidity in blood pH and worsens MS symptoms.
- One should avoid and stop the sedentary life style (Avaya yam). Go for regular physical activity as permitted by your body and slowly increase your body’s capacity and strength.
Yoga and Pranayama to manage MS
Practicing yoga asanas involves body postures and relaxation techniques that cultivate awareness, calmness, concentration, and focus on inner strengths. Yoga postures that help to manage MS symptoms are:
Pranayama or Breathing exercises are highly useful to check mental stressors but these should be advised only after evaluation of cardiac functions of patients.
- Anuloma Viloma
Herbs and Ayurvedic Formulations to manage MS
- Agni promoting formulations that ignite the digestive fire.
- Herbs and formulations, which correct metabolic process, are as Chitrakadi vati and Trikatu charna.
- Ojas promoting formulations and immunity enhancers such as Amalaki, Haridra, and Guduchi.
- Compound formulations as Triphaladi Guggulu and Amaritadi Guggulu.
- Take Herbs as: Vrikshamla (Garcinia indica), Rasona (Allium sativum), Sunthi (Zingiber officinale), and Haridra (Curcuma long).