Beware! Metabolic disorders increase risk of diabetes, early death

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Ever heard of the term “metabolic disorder?” You should know that this is one of the most prominent health problems in today’s times. A new study in The Lancet Journal found that metabolic issues such as high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and obesity have led to a 50 percent rise in poor health and early death among people between 2000 and 2021. The recent findings highlight the health consequences of an aging population and changing lifestyles.

The study found that people between the ages of 15 and 49 were more vulnerable to high BMI (body mass index), blood sugar, and blood pressure levels. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) notes that there is an urgent need to address preventable risk factors such as air pollution, smoking, low birth weight, and shorter pregnancies.

Here’s everything you need to know about the impact of metabolic disorders and their effects on the global population.

What is a metabolic disorder?

A metabolic disorder occurs when there is something wrong with your body’s metabolism, which is the chemical reaction in the body’s cells that changes food into energy. Metabolism includes converting food into energy, building or breaking down molecules, and regulating bodily functions. Any abnormal chemical reaction in your metabolism can lead to a metabolic disorder.

Common metabolic disorders

The Lancet study found that these metabolic disorders can increase your risk of poor health and early death:

1. High blood pressure

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure happens when the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels is high. Your blood pressure is normal at 120/80 mmHg and high when it crosses 139/89 mmHg. If the blood pressure continues to remain high, it can lead to complications such as cardiovascular diseases.

High blood pressure is a common metabolic disorder. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Elevated blood sugar levels

Medically named hyperglycemia, it is also known as high blood glucose or high blood sugar. It happens when your body is unable to make enough of the hormone called insulin. It is a type of hormone that allows glucose in the blood to enter cells, providing them with the energy to function. When your body is unable to use insulin properly, it can lead to insulin resistance. If someone has hyperglycemia, this means they have diabetes.

3. High blood mass index (BMI)

Blood mass index or BMI is the measure of your body fat, which is calculated based on height and weight. The higher the BMI, the higher the risk of being obese and health diseases. Someone with a high BMI can be at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and even cancer, according to a study published in the journal Cancers.

4. High LDL “Bad” cholesterol

LDL or low-density lipoproteins, also known as “bad” cholesterol, lead to the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. High levels of “bad” cholesterol can make you prone to developing diseases such as heart disease, found a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Also Read: High cholesterol levels can increase heart disease risk: Ways to reduce it naturally

How does a poor lifestyle lead to metabolic disorders?

Poor lifestyle choices can significantly increase the risk of developing metabolic disorders. Here’s how different lifestyle factors affect your metabolism and lead to metabolic disorders:

1. Unhealthy diet

If you consume a diet high in processed foods, refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and excessive calories, you can be at risk of weight gain, insulin resistance, and elevated blood sugar levels. A 2023 study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that an unhealthy diet can increase the risk of developing metabolic disorders.

2. Sedentary lifestyle

Thanks to hybrid models, prolonged periods of sitting and inactivity have become more common. A lack of physical activity can impair the ability of your body to regulate blood sugar levels and insulin levels, leading to insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction, found a study published in Frontiers.

3. Excessive alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can interfere with liver function and your body’s ability to metabolise nutrients, increasing the risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. According to John Hopkins Medicine, excessive drinking can contribute to heart disease.

4. Poor sleep habits

Poor sleep quality can affect hormone regulation, including hormones that control appetite, metabolism, and blood sugar levels. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with weight gain, insulin resistance, and an increased risk of developing metabolic disorders.

5. Chronic stress

Stress has become a part of everyone’s lives but too much of it can trigger hormonal problems that promote inflammation, insulin resistance, and weight gain. All of this contributes to metabolic dysfunction and increases the risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, according to a collection of papers by the National Academy of Sciences.

A stressed woman
Chronic stress can trigger the onset of metabolic disorders. Image courtesy: Freepik

6. Smoking

Tobacco smoke contains toxins that can damage blood vessels, promote inflammation, and interfere with metabolism. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How to reduce the risk?

The key to reducing the risk of developing these metabolic disorders is lead a healthy lifestyle by eating a nutritious diet, regular physical activity, avoid stress, alcohol, and smoking, and sleeping properly. You should always be on the lookout for the symptoms of the metabolic disorders mentioned above to keep diseases at bay. Also, you should consult a doctor immediately if you notice any symptoms of any metabolic disorders.

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