Metabolic syndrome (or insulin resistance syndrome) is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes. Unfortunately, it is becoming very common in the United States. According to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, metabolic syndrome is present if you have three or more of the following signs: blood pressure equal to or higher than 130/85 mmHg (or on blood pressure medication), fasting blood sugar (glucose) equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL, a large waist circumference (men – 40 inches or more and women – 35 inches or more), low HDL cholesterol (men – under 40 mg/dL and women – under 50 mg/dL), and triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL. Having any one of these risk factors isn’t good. But when they’re combined, they set the stage for serious problems. Metabolic syndrome can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diabetes, myocardial infarction (heart attack), kidney disease, fatty liver disease, peripheral artery disease, and stroke. The incidence of metabolic syndrome continues to rise as does the incidence of obesity. But the good news is that it is both preventable and treatable, largely with changes to your lifestyle and diet. Treatments include: losing weight (initial goal should be a BMI < 30, with ultimate goal < 25), regular aerobic exercise (get 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as walking or bicycling, 5 – 7 days per week), lowering your cholesterol (using improved diet, weight loss, and cholesterol lowering medicines, if needed), and lowering your blood pressure (using weight loss, exercise, and medicine, if needed). Good nutrition is the key to treating metabolic syndrome. Eating processed foods loaded with sugar and simple carbs significantly increases your chances of developing metabolic syndrome. Fast foods, sweets, and snack foods lead directly to the metabolic syndrome. It is critical to change your diet to one low in fat, high in fresh fruits and vegetables (7-10 servings a day), and filled with whole-grain products high in fiber. Cut out simple carbs and sugar. If you have the metabolic syndrome or some of the signs, the time to take action is now. Don’t wait for hardening of the arteries or worse to occur. Be proactive! Take control of your health. Take action today!