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Good nutrition reduces risk of metabolic syndrome

GEHA | September 2, 2021

GEHA medical plan members have free resources to help.

We've all heard that good nutrition is essential to a healthy lifestyle. But what is metabolic syndrome and how does it fit in?

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. Doctors consider someone to have metabolic syndrome when they have three or more risk factors, which include elevated blood pressure, low HDL (good cholesterol) levels and diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Recent studies have implicated a relationship between the consumption of meat, fried food and diet soda with the development of metabolic syndrome. One study found that a diet of high amounts of refined grains, processed meat, fried foods and red meat (in particular, hamburgers, hot dogs and processed meats) was associated with a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

With our busy lifestyles, it's convenient to grab fast food or prepackaged meals from the grocery store. So what should we do? Begin with adopting some healthy habits, such as eating healthier and getting more exercise.

Healthy lifestyle choices include:

  • Exercise. Exercise can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and improve insulin resistance, even if you don't lose a single pound. Walking more is a great way to put physical activity into your day.
  • A healthy diet. Avoid foods that are fried, processed or prepackaged. A diet that's high in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, beans, low fat dairy and whole grains has been shown to be helpful with metabolic syndrome. Many doctors suggest a "Mediterranean" diet because these meal plans emphasize "good" fats (like the monounsaturated fat in olive oil) and a balance of carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Weight loss. Obviously, weight loss is often a byproduct of exercising and eating well. Weight loss can improve every aspect of metabolic syndrome.

GEHA has free resources to help. You can get rewarded for your commitment to healthy living with tools and incentives that make it easy and fun to live healthier. For GEHA Elevate or Elevate Plus members, your healthy behaviors automatically earn financial rewards through the Wellness Pays rewards program. When you have completed wellness activities, you’ve earned financial rewards you can use for qualified medical expenses. Learn more and register for a Wellness Pays account today. Once you receive your rewards card, you can then register.

Rally Real Appeal is a science-based weight loss program offered at no cost to our Elevate and Elevate Plus members. This digital health platform, powered by Rally®, helps you self-manage your health goals, earn rewards, enroll with a wellness coach and more. Register with Rally® and get started today.

GEHA members enrolled in HDHP, Standard and High plans can enroll in the Health Rewards program, designed to reward you for healthy activities.

“The Role of Diet in Metabolic Syndrome.”, National Institutes of Health, 25 February 2008.
“How Do You Treat Metabolic Syndrome?”, WebMD, LLC, 26 August 2019 (medically reviewed on March 19, 2023).