Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Metabolic Syndrome: Part 2

Continuing from the previous blog on the metabolic syndrome, a constellation of risk factors which significantly increases your chance of developing cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes recently estimated by the CDC to affect roughly 1 out of 3 American adults: 

For now, the first-line therapies for all factors associated with the metabolic syndrome are weight reduction and increased physical activity.  Recall in the previous blog LDL Cholesterol is Not a Good Indicator of Heart Attack Risk that increasing evidence indicates that cardiovascular disease is at its root an inflammatory condition.  In recent years there is a growing recognition that obesity represents a state of chronic low-level inflammation.  It may very well be that reducing the inflammatory factors associated with obesity and introducing the anti-inflammatory factors that our bodies naturally produce with exercise, are the reasons behind the beneficial effects of weight-loss and increased activity.

It seems prudent, however, to expand that recommendation to include known anti-inflammatory foods in the diet.  In fact anti-inflammation may be the reason for the preventive effects (the mechanism thus far not fully understood) seen with the Mediterranean and Syndrome X diets with their high preponderance of fish (the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are anti-inflammatory), olive oil with its anti-inflammatory properties, and plant foods with their many antioxidants (vitamin C in particular has been shown to reduce the symptoms of arthritis).  Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish like salmon and sardines, but also in fortified eggs, walnuts and flax seeds.  Antioxidants are found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, the more colorful the better (and yes, white is a color).  Selenium (Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds), and soluble fiber (in oatmeal, beans, fruits and nuts) have also been observed to have anti-inflammatory properties.  Thus it would be prudent to include these foods as part of a diet to prevent the rapidly increasing metabolic syndrome among us (U.S.).  On the other hand, refined grains (which have been found to exacerbate inflammation in the body), saturated (animal) and trans (processed) fats, and excessive omega-6 fats (vegetable oils) are pro-inflammatory.  Even the nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, paprika and cayenne pepper) may be pro-inflammatory, though researchers debate whether there is enough scientific evidence to draw conclusions regarding nightshade foods and chronic inflammation.

N.E.W. LIFE recommends a Syndrome X Diet (45% carbohydrate: 15% protein: 40% fat, predominately monounsaturated/plant fat).  That diet composition is essentially the same as that of the highly touted, more widely recognized Mediterranean Diet with its also-proven health benefits.  The “Syndrome X Diet”, recommended by Dr. Gerald Reaven of Stanford University who initially discovered the metabolic syndrome, is a diet which N.E.W. LIFE participants diagnosed with Syndrome X have followed with much success in resolving their symptoms.  I highly recommended Gerald Reaven’s excellent book, Syndrome X: Overcoming the Silent Killer That Can Give You a Heart Attack, available at used and new, or through your library system.

The Center for Disease Control’s Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys published a National Health Statistics Report in May 2009, the results of a study entitled, “Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome Among Adults 20 Years of Age and Over, by Sex, Age, Race and Ethnicity, and Body Mass Index: United States, 2003–2006” which found that approximately 34% of adults in the U.S. meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome.

That’s 1 in 3.

Look around.  Odds are you know someone (or someones), and it may be you.  The symptoms are resolvable, but following the popular diet book advice can make the problem worse, not better. The problem I foresee is this—the more people who are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and given the recommendation to lose weight to resolve the problem, the more people will turn to the popular high-protein diets which have screamed for the attention of the American public (and succeeded in convincing many Americans that it is the most effective “healthy” diet).  The truth is that "solution" will do you more harm than good.  Please, please, please do not go on a popular high-protein diet to lose weight in a well-intentioned effort to resolve the metabolic syndrome--protein stimulates insulin secretion and hyperinsulinemia is the underlying problem of the metabolic syndrome!  More on that in the next blog.

Let’s get this right,

Diane Preves, M.S., R.D.

Note to employers:

Your employees can resolve the symptoms of the metabolic syndrome through participation in the N.E.W. LIFE program.  If you would like to host a seminar or a 10-week N.E.W. LIFE program for your employees contact me at

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1 comment:

  1. New Diet Taps into Innovative Plan to Help Dieters Get Rid Of 12-23 Pounds within Only 21 Days!


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