The primary rule of personal finance is that you must ‘pay yourself first’. It is a way that guarantees you will save money because you make a payment to your savings account before you pay bills or expenses of any kind.
It’s a good rule that has proven to be effective over and over for many people. It is unfortunate however, that many of us don’t apply the same rule to our health. How do you do that? You do that by allotting some of your time every day for your personal health.
It’s very easy in our modern hectic lives to be so busy that we do not have any time put aside for ourselves. We rush from one task to the next all day long and before we know it, the day is over. Tomorrow usually turns out to be a repeat performance of today.
Your Health Matters
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide for both men and women.
Weight control and regular exercise are very important but the food you eat could matter just as much. By choosing healthy foods you can lower cholesterol and high blood pressure. Simple changes in your routine can prevent or manage heart disease and give you greater control over the length and quality of your life.
The Diet Connection
A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease (CVD). The food choices you make can directly affect a number of risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and weight. Make a habit of choosing nutrient-rich foods loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients rather than nutrient deficient, high-calorie foods.
Major Risk Factors For Cardiovascular Disease
The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of the most dangerous heart attack risk factors including:
- diabetes and pre-diabetes
- abdominal obesity
- high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
It is estimated that one in four people have metabolic syndrome worldwide.(1)
These individuals have 3 times the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke and are twice as likely to die from it.
People with metabolic syndrome also have a fivefold greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The clustering of CVD risk factors that typifies the metabolic syndrome is now considered to be the driving force for a CVD epidemic.
The metabolic syndrome, aka syndrome X, is a group of risk factors that are associated with increased body weight. The risk is very real for the majority of people since two thirds of the population are currently overweight to some degree.
The Role of Body Weight
Being overweight is a major risk factor for the metabolic syndrome. The rapidly increasing rate of obesity in many countries around the world is likely to raise the incidence of the metabolic syndrome even further in the near future. Making simple changes in your diet and activity level is the best way to prevent or reverse the condition. When it comes to regular exercise, 30 minutes could save your life.
The Role of Insulin
Insulin resistance plays a key role in the incidence of the metabolic syndrome and some experts use the term ‘insulin resistance syndrome’ interchangeably.
Insulin is a hormone that helps your body use glucose as energy. Whenever you eat sugar or any carbohydrate, insulin promotes the uptake of glucose (sugar) from the blood into the cells of muscle and fat tissue and it also promotes the storage of energy in the form of glycogen and fat.
The stored energy in your fat is available to use at times when your blood glucose levels fall.
Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in the body become less sensitive to insulin. As the cells lose their ability to absorb glucose, more glucose remains in the blood and triggers the production of more insulin.
The ever increasing strain on the pancreas eventually wears out the beta cells that are responsible for insulin production. Once the pancreas is no longer able to produce enough insulin the person becomes hyperglycemic (too much glucose in the blood) and is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Take Action Before It’s Too Late
Metabolic syndrome is the prelude to a number of chronic and dangerous diseases. It is much harder, if not impossible, to completely reverse things once your condition progresses to heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes. Take action before it’s too late – metabolic syndrome is often completely reversible.
30 Minutes Could Save Your Life
Metabolic syndrome is a preventable and reversible condition. The most important actions you can take are:
- Cutting back on sugar can improve your health markers in just one week.
- Weight control: weight loss lowers LDL cholesterol and all of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome.
- Physical activity: a brisk daily walk can improve insulin levels and facilitate weight loss. 30 minutes could save your life!
- Diet: eat a healthy low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory diet.
- Supplements: seniors and people who don’t get much sunlight often have low vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome. (2)
Studies show that moderate exercise is just as effective in reversing the metabolic syndrome as more intensive exercise programs.(3) This is good news for the large numbers of fairly inactive people who are overweight. There’s no reason to feel powerless because you are not able or inclined to participate in strenuous exercise.
Pay yourself first by taking a 30 minute walk at least 5 times a week. You’ll feel better and you also get to bank the gym membership fees!
(1)Dunstan DW, Zimmet PZ, Welborn TA et al. The rising prevalence of diabetes and
impaired glucose tolerance. The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study.
Diabetes Care 2002;25:829-34