What comes to mind when you think of metabolic health? You might think of having a healthy metabolism or striving to reach an ideal weight. While these are important, metabolic health includes many factors, such as your body composition, immune system health, and other health conditions you may face later down the road.
In fact, one study found that only about 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy.1 Yikes! So how do you know if you have good metabolic health? Is there a way to improve it? Keep reading to find out!
A few key factors can determine your metabolic health. If you have poor health in most or all of these areas, you may be part of the one third of adults that develop metabolic syndrome2: a group of conditions that can create further health risks. So, it’s important to keep the following factors in check:
Our food and physical activity choices, dehydration, certain medications with steroids or improper medication use, illness, infection, hormonal changes, and stress can all affect blood sugar levels.3 When too much sugar goes into the bloodstream, the pancreas starts working overtime to pump the body with more insulin. Over time, your body’s cells can stop responding and blood sugar levels continue to rise, leading to insulin resistance and other health issues.4
Your waist size can be another indicator of health risks. A larger waist often means there is excess fat around the organs. To measure your waist, start at the hip bone, then wrap the tape measure around your body. Exhale, then write down the amount shown.
There’s a major misconception that all cholesterol is unhealthy. But good cholesterol is important for your cellular health and metabolic health! There are two types of cholesterol: LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and HDL cholesterol (the good kind). High levels of LDL cholesterol have been associated with certain health risks, while healthy levels of HDL (ideally above 60 mg/dL) protect your health.6
Abnormally high blood pressure is another sign of poor metabolic health. High blood pressure can occur over time, due to unhealthy lifestyle choices such as inconsistent exercise, a poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to check your blood pressure levels.
Triglycerides are types of fat lipids found in your blood. High triglyceride levels can lead to thickening of the artery walls and heart issues later.8 There are simple ways to lower triglycerides and manage them better, such as limiting sugar intake and processed foods.
Poor body composition is an unhealthy ratio between muscle mass and body fat. Studies show convincing evidence of obesity having a negative impact on immune system health.9 This is because increased fat cells can put your body in a state of stress and inflammation.
Here are healthy body fat percentages based on age10:
New research in the last couple decades has shown a correlation between metabolic health and the immune system. This research is known as immunometabolism. One of its main focuses is how negative metabolic changes can affect your immune system over time and result in negative physiological stresses.11
If those changes can negatively affect your immune system over a long period of time, imagine what the right choices regarding metabolic health can do!
4Life is at the forefront of bringing this research to light by providing ways to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Knowing the risk factors and making healthy lifestyle changes can help lower chances of developing metabolic syndrome and other health problems such as obesity. Don’t know where to begin? Here are a few tips:
This will help you know if you are at a good, healthy body weight. Calculate your results using this BMI calculator. If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the healthy weight range.12
Eat foods that are naturally high in fiber and low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and added sugars.13
A full 30-minute workout routine is great when you can get it in. But on days you can’t, physical activity can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking around your neighborhood. (See more tips here on how to incorporate daily fitness into your life.)
The more vibrant the color, the better! Fruits and vegetables are great for energy, vitality, and that extra immune system boost.
Keep hitting snooze? Getting an adequate amount of sleep is linked to heart health! Visit the CDC’s Sleep and Disorders website for tips on getting better sleep.
This all starts by getting rid of excess body fat, building lean muscle, and taking small steps to improve your everyday lifestyle.
1 What does it mean to be metabolically healthy?
2 Metabolic syndrome
3 Glucose levels FAQ
4 Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
5 Calculating your waist circumfrence
6 Cholestrol Numbers: What do they mean?
7 High blood pressure symptoms and causes
8 Triglycerides: Why do they matter?
9 The impact of obesity on the immune response to infection
10 What is body composition?
11 Immunometabolism: where immunology and metabolism meet
12 Assessing your weight
13 Cholestrol prevention
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