July 21, 2016
You wouldn’t know it from the way the job title is used these days, but the root word for “doctor”—from the Latin docere (pronounced DO-key-ray)—means “to teach.”
Which sums up nicely one of the biggest problems with today’s American medical system.
When I was a young man—eighteen or nineteen, tops—I went to my doctor and asked him how to be healthy. He looked at me as if I were crazy, and told me to come back when something went wrong.
That’s not teaching. That’s not even helpful. A doctor should be there— docere— to teach.
Which is one of the foundational reasons for why I started the Wellness Training Institute. To teach. To show my patients and Wellness Program Members how to reverse what’s wrong with them—or to prevent it outright.
I have patients coming in all the time with issues that could’ve been completely eliminated if only they’d known a few key things when they were younger.
And one of the conditions I come across time and time again—and one that breaks my heart simply because it isn’t the inevitable outcome of just getting older—is metabolic syndrome.
WHAT IS METABOLIC SYNDROME?
Metabolic syndrome is a little bit of a touchy area among diagnosticians, only because it can be a little slippery to define. But because I’m a doctor who’s decided to embrace the classical definition of the title itself, I’ll attempt to define it here.
Metabolic syndrome is sort of an umbrella term that covers a number of conditions that lead to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, as well as a wide range of autoimmune disorders. Metabolic syndrome also covers thyroid disease (Grave’s disease, for example, or Hashimoto’s), high blood pressure, dimention, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoporosis. And many others.
The key here is that none of those things that falls underneath this particular umbrella is anything you’d ever want to have. All of this stuff is bad with a capital B.
The other key here is that these conditions account for a huge portion of deaths in America every year.
And each and every one is preventable. They are all lifestyle-related.
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THE 5 SNEAKY SYMPTOMS OF METABOLIC SYNDROME
Here are the five main signs that you might be developing metabolic syndrome. Sometimes people experience each of them. Other times, it’s only a couple. The point is that if any of these apply to you, it’s time to take a good, hard look at what habits have led you this far.
Here are the five symptoms:
1. Abnormal craving for sugar
This goes above and beyond that craving for the occasional Snickers bar. It’s a total and unrelenting desire to stuff yourself with the substance that, when put into a gas tank, completely destroys an automobile.
2. Unexplained belly fat
This doesn’t mean that you wake up one morning to find that aliens have abducted you, stuffed you to the point of popping with goose down, and left with no explanation. No need to contact either Mulder or Scully. This is when you’ve gained weight, tried to get it off in ways that have worked in the past, but that inflatable pool toy you now call a gut just won’t disappear.
3. Brain fog
You might feel a little off. A little slow. Thinking becomes hard. In fact, you often find yourself thinking about thinking, which just makes things worse.
4. Excessive fatigue
Have you ever had mono? Do you remember how tired you felt? This feels the same, only with none of the making out beforehand.
5. Irregular sleep patterns
You are tired. It’s 4 AM. So very tired. But you can’t sleep. But now it’s noon. Let’s get some lunch. Lunch sounds good. But you are still so tired. So very ti…
By themselves, these conditions are sort of irritating. No one likes brain fog. Nobody would willing want to walk around with an extra tire around their midsection. Irregular sleep sucks.
But when you see these annoyances for what they are—symptoms—you may start to get a glimpse of what’s to come. A glimpse of what’s actually happening inside you. They might not just be little annoyances. They might actually be honest-to-gosh warning signs.
The good news, of course, is that to a great point, metabolic syndrome is reversible. For most people, lifestyle changes—especially if the symptoms are caught early on and new healthy habits are formed—can change course pretty drastically.
TOO LIGHT TO NOTICE/TOO HEAVY TO BE BROKEN
The underlying theme here, of course, is that all kinds of diseases—metabolic or otherwise—are completely preventable. All it takes is education up front. Knowing the end result of what today’s habits are going to lead to is a powerful form of prevention.
Education is key.
But habits are sneaky. You don’t always even know they are habits. Warren Buffet has paraphrased the 18th century British poet Samuel Johnson on a number of occasions to just this point: “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” I think that sums the dilemma up nicely.
It’s the job of the younger person to take care of her older, future self. So, if good habits are formed—and if those habits are shaped by doctors who are doing what they should be, namely, teaching—a whole world of hurt and heartache will be saved down the line.
If you are younger (in your 20s, maybe or 30s) and one or more of these signs is flaring at you, take action now. The younger you are, the easier it is to change direction. Catch it now, act on it, and change your habits, and you will be surprised at how different your future will look.
But maybe you’re past that. Maybe those symptoms are already manifesting in a big way. If so, I would encourage you to begin taking steps to reverse it. Switch to a plant-based diet, join a yoga class, or just quit drinking pop.
Just start somewhere. And then find someone who knows what they’re talking about to help you along through the journey ahead.
THE SIGNS ARE THERE FOR A REASON
Don’t ignore the warning signs. Each of the five symptoms above is unpleasant. But compared to what is coming down the line if you don’t do anything, any one of them will feel comparatively like a vacation.
Don’t be complacent. Don’t be reactive. Be proactive.
Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you should be feeling any worse.
Give the body what it needs and it will take care of you for a long, long time.
Just remember: No one can give you back your health. That’s why they call it “your health.” It’s yours. You own it. You can throw it away, or you can take a small step right now in the right direction and, even with that first small step forward, begin creating a future that’s much, much brighter.
(If you really want to get serious about preventing or reversing metabolic syndrome, I would encourage to attend one of our FREE educational dinners. It’s a great starting point, and you’ll walk out at the end far more enlightened than when you started. I’d stake my title as Docere on it. Plus, it’s FREE.)