In Ireland, we’re fast on the way to becoming the fattest nation in Europe with one in four adults now classed as obese, and 70pc of men recorded as being at an unhealthy weight. Not only does obesity increase the likelihood of sleep apnoea (see page 6), but it can lead to a cluster of conditions such as increased blood sugar, high blood pressure, fat around the middle and high cholesterol levels that together are known as metabolic syndrome and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The dangers don’t stop there. Studies show metabolic syndrome also has a big impact on your cognitive function and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
On the plus side, if you tackle it, says Dr Bredesen, not only are you age-proofing your brain but you may find you no longer need medication for blood pressure, statins or Type 2 diabetes, “because when you do the right things, you actually don’t need them.”
There’s no one silver bullet that tackles metabolic syndrome. The first step is to ask your GP to test for Haemoglobin A1c, which Dr Bredesen advises should be below 5.6pc. If it is over that, there are umpteen resources to help you change your lifestyle and improve your risk factors, including the many pointers given here.