Integrative GP and Vively Medical Director
August 16, 2023
Metabolic health might not be a topic you've frequently encountered in your day-to-day conversations
Metabolic health might not be a topic you've frequently encountered in your day-to-day conversations, but with the rise of diseases like type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and heart conditions, it’s a subject that is increasingly demanding our attention here in Australia.
Metabolic health isn’t just about having a “fast” or “slow” metabolism. It dives deeper into the intricate system of our body that manages various factors including blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, fat storage, and more. Being metabolically healthy implies the optimal functioning of these systems without medication.
The benchmark for metabolic health often pivots on the absence of metabolic syndrome - a cluster of conditions like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. This syndrome boosts the risk of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and even certain neurological conditions.
Unfortunately, the statistics in Australia paint a concerning picture. Over two-thirds of adult Aussies are classified as overweight or obese. Roughly one-third are grappling with fatty liver diseases, and a staggering 35% of our population is affected by metabolic syndrome. The alarm bells should be ringing.
For years, one of the go-to methods for gauging blood glucose has been the HbA1c test. This gives an average of our blood glucose levels over the past three months. However, it does not capture the significant fluctuations in these levels. These fluctuations are crucial as they can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart problems.
Vively offers a novel way to monitor glucose levels using a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). This device helps people monitor their glucose levels in real time.
It shows how their lifestyle choices impact glucose levels. This includes food and exercise. And early data suggests there might be more underlying metabolic issues in the Australian population than we previously thought.
In 2016, researchers from the University of North Carolina found that only 12.2% of adults in the US are metabolically healthy. These stats would not be too disimmilar in Australia.
The study measured waist circumference, blood sugar, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol to assess metabolic health in the long term.
Interestingly the researchers commented that being of a normal weight did not protect you from being metabolically unhealthy. In fact, less than 1/3 of normal weight adults were in fact metabolically healthy!
Carrying excessive weight, was significantly associated with poor metabolic health, with 99.5% of obese people suffering metabolic dysfunction. Weight loss can be one way to improve metabolic health in this population.
The RACGP reports elevated glucose levels as being a key marker of Metabolic Syndrome. Over 66% of Australians using Vively have elevated glucose levels without previously being aware of the fact, which highlights the potential prevalence of elevated blood sugar levels in the Australian population.
What we consume plays a massive role in our metabolic health. Embracing a diet rich in high-fibre whole foods, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats can make a substantial difference. Reducing the intake of high sugar and processed foods is also a crucial metabolic health solution.
Moreover, our eating patterns and timings can influence metabolic health. Starting the day with a protein-filled breakfast can help boost metabolism for the whole day. Consuming meals in a relaxed environment and being present during your meals can support better digestion and nutrient absorption.
Your lifestyle choices extend beyond what you eat. Quality sleep, for example, is pivotal for metabolic health. A night of disturbed sleep can adversely impact blood sugar levels the next day, increasing cravings for sugary foods. Regular exercise and physical activity, even if it’s just a brisk walk or gardening, can have a positive impact too.
Lastly, we cannot overlook the role of mental health. Chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions have been linked to metabolic disruptions. Addressing these issues with a holistic approach and seeking professional advice is essential.
Overall well-being is intricately linked to metabolic health. Our daily choices can impact our metabolism. These choices include what we eat, how active we are, how much we sleep, and how we manage stress.
Being proactive and seeking guidance from a metabolic health clinic, or using a glucose monitoring program like Vively, can not only improve metabolic health but enhance overall life quality for Australians.