Metabolic Syndrome in “Normal Weight” Americans

The Metabolic Syndrome

The medical journal Diabetes Care in 2004 stated, “Individuals in the upper normal-weight and slightly overweight BMI range (i.e. BMI of 24-27) have a relatively high prevalence and are at increased risk of having the metabolic syndrome. Therefore, screening in individuals with normal or slightly elevated BMI is important in the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” Normal BMI (body mass index) is 20-24, overweight 25-29 and obese is greater than 30. The article refers to what is called “metabolically obese normal weight individuals”. Metabolically obese means the following 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.

So why is this important? Metabolic Syndrome confers:

ü A 2-fold increase in relative risk for heart disease.

ü A 5-fold increase in risk for developing type II diabetes in individuals without established diabetes.

So doctors should be telling their “normal weight” patients who meet the above criteria that they are “metabolically obese” and on the road to heart disease and diabetes. The pot belly, beer belly, baby belly (when there is no baby) and “love handles” are signs of possible metabolic obesity. Metabolic Syndrome is a lifestyle disease and the treatment should not require medications. “All patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome should be encouraged to change their diet and exercise habits as primary therapy” according to the journal American Family Physician in 2004.

Our therapeutic lifestyle program called FirstLine Therapy is specifically designed to diagnose and treat the Metabolic Syndrome through dietary and lifestyle changes. Watch our success story video and call us today even if you are of “normal weight”. Reverse the Metabolic Syndrome naturally to live a long and healthy life.

Treatment for Metabolic Syndrome

Lifestyle Treatment for Metabolic Syndrome

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.

Diet for Metabolic Syndrome

The Metabolic Syndrome consists of having any 3 out of these 5 criteria: elevated blood sugar (>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) and low LDL (<40 mg/dl for men , <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. Medical studies strongly favor the Mediterranean diet. This consists of lean meats, fish, moderate dairy, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruits, good fats like olive oil, canola oil and flax. This diet is high in omega-3 oils that protect the heart and decrease inflammation in joints. It is based on low glycemic index foods. High glycemic index foods like white sugar white flour, and rice are avoided. Portion sizes are one of the secrets. For grains it would usually be ½ of a whole wheat pita or tortilla per day. The Mediterranean Diet is not a low carb diet nor is it a high protein diet. It is a healthy balance of carbs, proteins and fats. It is the most researched diet in the medical literature for a variety of health concerns.

The Mediterranean diet and lifestyle changes have been proven to be more effective than using metformin, a commonly prescribed drug for blood sugar. Our lifestyle program, covered by most insurance, teaches people how to follow a Mediterranean diet of three meals and three snacks per day. We provide extensive recipes and menus. We follow progress through blood tests and measuring lean body mass and fat mass with bioimpedance analysis. See our success story video to hear about the Mediterranean diet in action for Metabolic Syndrome.

Metabolic Syndrome Diet

Many medical studies over the past decade recommend the Mediterranean diet for Metabolic Syndrome. The most authentic version of the Mediterranean Diet originally came from the island of Crete. It consists of beans and other legumes, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruits, limited dairy such as low fat cottage cheese, yogurt, ricotta and mozzarella cheese, lean meats such as poultry, fish, lamb, wild game and grass fed beef. It also includes good fats like olive oil, canola and flax oils. Whole grains and multi-grains comprise the starches. Meals composed of these foods tend to leave a person feeling satisfied and not craving empty calories. These foods interact with our genes to send out good signals to regulate insulin and blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This is a phytonutrient diet with many natural antioxidants and has a high level of fiber.

If you are a woman with a waist circumference 35 inches or greater or a man with a waist of 40 inches or greater (not the pant waist size) you may be at risk for the Metabolic Syndrome and could benefit from this diet. Other criteria include elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides and low good cholesterol. A person needs to have three out of these five criteria to qualify. The Metabolic Syndrome puts people at risk for heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Many medical studies show significant improvement in all of the criteria for people with Metabolic Syndrome who follow the Mediterranean Diet. In our office we recommend this as a way of eating for life and not just a “diet”. It is easy to follow if you avoid all pre-packaged and microwave foods.

The good news is you don’t have to have any of the criteria of the Metabolic Syndrome to follow a Mediterranean Diet.

Fatty Liver – Do You Have One?

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects about 70 million adults in the U.S. or 30% of the adult population. About 20 % of these individuals have the more severe form called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH. NAFLD is emerging as a major cause of chronic liver disease and is associated with the increasing prevalence of type II diabetes and obesity. It is the most common reason for the need for a liver transplant.

NAFLD is the most frequent explanation for abnormal liver test results and accounts for elevation of liver enzymes in up to 90 % of cases. Specific patterns of liver enzymes can be markers of insulin resistance, the primary cause of type II or adult diabetes.

Fatty liver is strongly associated with the Metabolic Syndrome. This is a pre-diabetic condition defined by 3 out of 5 of the following: blood pressure greater than 130/85, blood sugar greater than 100 mg/dl, triglycerides greater than 150 mg/dl, waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women and HDL (good cholesterol) less than 50 for women and 40 for men. People with Metabolic Syndrome have five times greater risked for diabetes, two times greater risk for heart disease, and significantly greater risk for stroke and gout. 64 million Americans are estimated to have Metabolic Syndrome.

The good news is that recently many studies show that the Mediterranean Diet can improve and prevent this fatty liver condition. This is the most researched diet in all of medical literature for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis. It consists of legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish, poultry, lamb, whole grains and minimal dairy. This diet decreases inflammation in all tissues of the body including the liver and improves insulin sensitivity so that adult diabetes can also be reversed. The standard American diet consisting of packaged and processed foods, soda drinks, fast foods, snack foods, refined sugars, and white flour based products is the primary cause of fatty liver, insulin resistance and expanding waistlines.

These dietary and lifestyle changes are a good example of effective low technology, low cost approaches to complex medical problems and are well documented in the medical literature.