The Metabolic Syndrome consists of having any 3 out of these 5 criteria:
elevated blood sugar greater than 100 mg/dl),
blood pressure >130/85),
triglycerides >150 mg/dl),
waist circumference over 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women measured at the level of the belly button
low LDL below 40 mg/dl for men and <50 mg/dl for women.
It affects almost 50 million adults in the U.S. or about one in four individuals. Having Metabolic Syndrome is a significant risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s and more. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is perhaps the best single treatment. However a new study in the journal Nutrition conducted by the Functional Medicine Research Center in Gig Harbor Washington in conjunction with the Metagenics company, found that a specialized soy based medical food containing plant sterols with a hops derived anti-inflammatory nutrient along with the Mediterranean diet was better than the American Heart Association Diet in reducing 14 cardiovascular risk factors and it worked faster than diet alone.
The conventional medical treatment for the Metabolic Syndrome would be to prescribe a separate medicine for elevated blood sugar, blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol. According to the journal American Family Physician in 2004, “Soon metabolic syndrome will overtake cigarette smoking as the number one risk factor for heart disease among the U.S. population. The National
Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III has identified Metabolic Syndrome as an indication for vigorous lifestyle intervention.” So medical journals actually do not recommend prescriptions as the first line of treatment for Metabolic Syndrome.
The studies mentioned above show the power of simple, easy to adhere to dietary changes that can work even faster with a specialized medical food. We implement these lifestyle treatments for Metabolic Syndrome in our therapeutic lifestyle program. Call us today.
The FDA has just approved the first new weight loss drug in 13 years called Belviq (lorcaserin). This is essentially a “new and improved” version of Fen-Phen pulled by the FDA in 1997 due to heart valve problems. On the same day this week of the new drug’s approval, a recommendation against using diet drugs was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Referring to currently marketed diet drugs, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that because of safety problems and a lack of data showing that people can keep weight off after discontinuing diet medications , the task force could not recommend that anyone use diet drugs.
Although an FDA advisory committee that reviewed lorcaserin for medical weight loss voted to approve it, it did so reluctantly, particularly because of widely shared concerns about evidence of heart valve damage in people using the drug in clinical trials. When these last heart valve-damaging diet drugs were banned in 1997, the knowledge of this life-threatening adverse effect was known only after approval. But in this case, the FDA has known before today’s approval of lorcaserin that it could damage heart valves. The agency’s own advisory committee concluded that “[t]here’s probably not sufficient data at this time to rule out a clinically meaningful increase in the risk for valvular heart disease.”
This is hardly an overwhelming endorsement for a new drug for medical weight loss by the FDA. A major medical journal and a government task force advocates against “diet pills” because of serious side effects and no one really keeps the weight off long term when using them. In complicated conditions like overweight and obesity the old mentality of “a pill for an ill” is too simple minded. Doctors and the general public know that the only long term solution is changes lifestyle in food choices that do not cause serious health issues like heart valve problems.
We help many people in our clinic with weight related medical problems like high cholesterol and triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure and body pains related to excess weight. Please see our success story video and the tab for FirstLine Therapy lifestyle program and see how safe medical weight loss can help you.
Two new medical studies show that the “low carb” Atkins diet may be harmful for the heart. A June 2012 study from the British Medical Journal followed a random sample of 43, 396 Swedish women aged 30 to 49 completed an extensive dietary questionnaire and were followed up for an average of 15.7 years. The found an additional four to five cases of cardiovascular disease per 10 000 women per year compared with those who did not regularly eat a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. The authors concluded: “Low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets, used on a regular basis and without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates or the source of proteins, are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.” They further stated, “the short-term benefits of low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets for weight loss that have made these diets appealing seem irrelevant in the face of increasing evidence of higher morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases in the long term.” Bottom line: there are much safer ways to help cholesterol reduction naturally than “low carb” diets.
In the September 2010 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the demise of the Atkins diet was sounded. The goal of the study was to determine the association of low-carb diets with mortality during 26 years of follow-up in women and men from 1980 to 2006. Evaluating 85,168 women aged 34 to 59 and 44,548 men aged 40-75 in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, low-carb diets were characterized as animal based or vegetable based depending on whether they emphasized animal or vegetable sources of fat and protein. The Atkins Diet promoted animal protein especially red meat such as beef, pork rinds, bacon and sausage with very limited refined carbohydrates and vegetables.
Analyzing the results for women and men, animal protein and fat based, low-carb diets were strongly associated with higher all cause mortality rates including cardiovascular and cancer deaths. However, vegetable based protein and fat diets were strongly associated to reduced all cause mortality from heart related causes and cancer. This is the first time the Atkins diet was studied for its long term effects.
In addition, a recent study reviewed in The New England Journal of Medicine found that an Atkins-type diet “promotes atherosclerosis (heart disease) through mechanisms that do not modify the classic cardiovascular risk factors” such as HDL. A whole foods plant-based diet that’s also low in refined carbohydrates (i.e. white sugar and white flour) can help with cholesterol reduction naturally and may reverse coronary heart disease.
In previous blogs I have covered specific foods to avoid in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. An overall bad diet of white sugar, white flour and white fat found in many packaged and highly processed foods can disrupt the ecology of the gut by turning non-harmful bacteria into harmful bacteria. We all carry about 3-4 pounds of bacteria in our intestine and colon that contain greater than 100,000 billion bacteria of about 500 different types–many more cells than our whole body. These bacteria can work for us or against us depending upon our diet and usage of antibiotics. The total of these bacteria is called our microbiome which also includes bacteria on our skin surfaces. If there is an overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria they can change the molecular structure of the food we eat causing reactions to that food. This is called an acquired food sensitivity i.e. you weren’t born with it. This imbalance can result in diarrhea, constipation, skin problems, headaches, joint and muscle pains, bloating and even heart disease.
So an important treatment for irritable bowel syndrome is to keep your gut bacteria happy and healthy but not through the highly advertised yogurts on TV. I recommend plain yogurt since the flavored kinds have very little of the beneficial bacteria. I may recommend a special stool test not performed by local laboratories to get levels of good and potentially bad bacteria. Then I will know which specific types of good bacteria to recommend. Many times a person will say “I have been taking this kind, is it good?”. When the test will come back and shows very low levels of the good bacteria I will recommend highly researched probiotics available only through health care professionals for them. They will need to take it for six months or longer. People with IBS seldom have just that as a health problem, and tend to have other conditions that are in some way related to disrupted bacteria in their gut. Helping your gut bacteria is essential for treating irritable bowel syndrome.