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This is part 2 of a series on metabolic health. Since recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that only 12% of American adults are metabolically healthy, it’s important to understand that metabolic dysfunction is a health epidemic that is 100% preventable and reversible.
What does it mean to be metabolically healthy? It means having ideal levels of blood glucose, triglycerides, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure, and a low waist circumference, without medications. These biomarkers directly predict your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and dementia.
In part 1 (published in February), we learned that chronic pain and tendon injuries, accelerated skin aging and acne, mental health conditions, and difficulty losing weight or maintaining weight loss are all signs and symptoms of metabolic dysfunction.
So what strategies are most effective at improving your metabolic health, reversing the symptoms of metabolic dysfunction, getting rid of dangerous visceral fat (deep belly fat), and achieving optimal levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, blood pressure?
Getting the right amount of sleep during the right time is perhaps the most important factor determining your metabolic health. Research shows that just one night of poor sleep can drive blood glucose levels up into the prediabetic or diabetic range in non-diabetic individuals for an entire day.
Sleeping during daylight hours can wreak havoc on your metabolic health as well. Shift workers have higher postprandial glucose excursions (the spike in blood glucose levels after meals), impaired beta cell function, and a delayed post-meal insulin response during night shift, signaling an increased risk of diabetes.
Working just a few night shifts per month can also increase triglycerides and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease. In addition, numerous studies have found elevated levels of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), a well-known biomarker of liver disease, in night shift workers.
There may be a few ways to mitigate the effects of night shift work, which we’ll cover in a future issue. For everyone else, though, it’s really important to sleep during regular night hours.
How do you know if you’re not getting enough sleep? If you need an alarm in order to wake up in the mornings, if you feel drowsy during the day, or if you could fall asleep in less than 5 minutes after lying down, these are signs that you’re sleep deprived.
To get a good night of sleep, going to bed at the same time each night is ideal. To determine your bedtime, count 8 - 9 hours before the time that you need to get up in the mornings. Most people need 7.5 hours of sleep each night, about 15 minutes to fall asleep, and another 15 minutes to gradually wake up in the mornings. Scheduling 9 hours in bed can be helpful if you’re exceptionally tired, recovering from an illness, or if you’re an athlete because these conditions may increase your sleep requirements.
Non-Exercise Physical Activity
The next most important factor determining your metabolic health is non-exercise physical activity. While exercise is certainly also important, what you do during the other 14 hours of the day may play an even larger role in your metabolic health.
Sitting for 8 hours of work, sitting during your commute to and from work, and then sitting again when you get home can raise your risk of metabolic dysfunction even if you’re getting regular exercise.
Although there are numerous studies linking increased sitting time to metabolic syndrome, a 2018 study published in the Medical Science Monitor found that the deleterious effects of low physical activity, including abdominal obesity, high blood glucose, and high blood pressure, are most pronounced in people who are overweight or obese.
The solution to this is to find ways to fit in chunks of physical activity into your day. If you work at a desk, consider using an under-desk elliptical or a treadmill desk, or simply just do 5 minutes of exercises every 55 minutes. Instead of watching TV while sitting on the couch or a chair when you get home, you can go for a walk, ride your bike, or do something active while you’re watching your favorite Netflix series or Facetiming friends and family.
Prolon Fasting Mimicking Diet
Fasting from all food and caloric beverages (also known as water fasting) for 72 hours or more is known to improve metabolic health, but it can also be extremely uncomfortable to do. Side effects can include weakness, fatigue, dizziness, electrolyte imbalance, and difficulty eating in moderation when the fast is over.
This is what led researchers to develop a 5-day dietary program called the Prolon Fasting Mimicking Diet. The benefits are similar to a water fast, but without the side effects because you still get to eat food on the program.
The Prolon Fasting Mimicking Diet is a breakthrough nutri-technology that has been researched for over 20 years at The Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California using $48 million dollars in research grants from the National Institutes of Health & European Union for aging, fasting, and FMD research and clinical trials.
In clinical trials, adults of all different shapes and sizes completed one 5-day cycle of Prolon each month for 3 consecutive months. They did not make any changes to their usual diet or lifestyle outside of the 5 days they were using Prolon.
By the end of the third cycle of Prolon, participants who started out with a normal body weight or were slightly overweight shed an average of 5.7 pounds and reduced their waist circumference by 1.6 inches. Those who were obese (BMI >30) lost an average of 9 pounds and reduced their BMI by 3.4% while preserving lean muscle mass.
Other biomarkers of metabolic health, including cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and fasting blood glucose also improved significantly. Those who had the most metabolic dysfunction before using Prolon also improved the most.
People who complete a 5-day cycle of Prolon also report an increased feeling of well-being, more energy and mental focus, better sleep, and reduction or elimination of chronic aches and pains.
It stands to reason that if you already have optimal metabolic health, you may not experience major benefits from Prolon. However, if you have excess belly fat, elevated triglycerides, a fasting blood glucose over 85 mg/dL, elevated LDL cholesterol, or high blood pressure, completing three 5-day cycles of Prolon can help to normalize these biomarkers.
Children and people with certain health conditions should not use Prolon. If you’re interested in trying Prolon and experiencing the benefits for yourself, contact email@example.com to set up your free consultation to find out if Prolon is right for you. If it is, we’ll help you get started and answer any questions you may have.