A good example of a medical food is Metagenics UltraMeal. This soy based product, researched in many clinical trials, contains plant sterols to lower cholesterol and the newest version, UltraMeal Plus 360, contains an acacia extract and iso-alpha acids (from hops) to decrease inflammation as well as improve fasting insulin and triglyceride levels. It contains 24 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams of protein, and only 3 grams of fat for 190 calories per serving. It also contains 17 mg of isoflavones, 2,000 mg of plant sterols and a balanced vitamin and mineral formula. A medical study published in March of 2011 in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that after 12 weeks of eating a Mediterranean diet and UltraMeal Plus 360 people had significant lowering of their cholesterol and homocysteine than just the diet alone. The people who just followed the diet without using the medical food had reduced waist circumference, blood pressure and triglycerides but not as much improvement in their cholesterol.
This study recruited women between the ages of 20 and 75 with a BMI of between 25 and 45. (BMI of 20-24 is considered normal, 25-29 overweight, 30-34 obese and over 35 severely obese). They were studied at three sites, the University of Connecticut, University of Florida and University of California Irvine. They all met at least three of the criteria for the Metabolic Syndrome i.e. waist circumference of over 35 inches, triglycerides above 150, HDL below 50, blood pressure 135/85 or above and blood sugar above 100. The Metabolic Syndrome affects as least 65 million people in the U.S. and can lead to diabetes and heart disease. It is considered to be a disease caused by poor diet and lifestyle rather than by genetic factors.
This study is a good example of the power of lifestyle changes and highly researched natural substances to improve people’s health. Metagenics UltraMeal is both a food and a medicine therefore it is called a medical food. Many major medical journals clearly state that dietary and lifestyle changes should be the first line of therapy for cholesterol and blood pressure problems rather than medications. Physicians trained in nutritional medicine are likely to know how and when to recommend a medical food and lifestyle program to their patients.