Natural Treatments For Metabolic Syndrome

Using Nutraceuticals to Thwart a Deadly Trend

Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or cardiovascular metabolic syndrome, is comprised of hyperlipidemia (elevated triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol), central (abdominal) obesity, hypertension, and concomitant insulin re-sistance=glucose intolerance. Although no specific cause-and-effect relationship has been established, the outcomes of these associative factors are significantly increased risks for developing diabetes and heart disease. Eric S. Freedland, M.D., a senior editor of Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders1 based in Boston, Massachusetts, notes that "the escalating worldwide epidemic of metabolic syndrome affects each of us—either directly or indirectly. It demands multidisciplinary efforts and cooperation to [e]nsure better understanding of its causes and to develop effective approaches to preventing and treating its associated conditions.'' Using a sample of 3,477 Mexican-American, 3,305 African-American, and 5,581 Anglo-American men and nonpregnant=non-lactating women 20 years and older, the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey's assessment of metabolic syndrome-associated factors and prevalence2 revealed the following information about the syndrome in the United States:

Metabolic syndrome was present in 22.8% of men and 22.6% of women. Age-specific prevalence was highest in male and female Mexican-Americans and lowest in male and female African-Americans. Ethnic differences did not change after adjusting for age, body-mass index (BMI), and socioeconomic status. Metabolic syndrome was present in 4.6% of normal-weight men. Metabolic syndrome was present in 22.4% of overweight men. Metabolic syndrome was present in 59.6% of obese men. A similar distribution was noted for women.

Increasing age, postmenopause, elevated BMI, cigarette smoking, avoidance of alcohol, physical inactivity, low socioeconomic status, and Mexican-American ethnicity are associated with an increased occurrence of metabolic syndrome.

The researchers' conclusions were that approximately 20% of adults in the United States have metabolic syndrome, and it is associated with several modifiable lifestyle factors.2 Metabolic syndrome, as defined by the Adult Treatment Panel III criteria includes:

a waist circumference greater than 102 cm in men and 88 cm in women blood pressure of 130=85 mmHg or greater fasting serum glucose level of greater than 110 mg=dL serum triglycerides of 150 mg=dL or greater

HDL cholesterol less than 40 mg=dL in men and 50 mg=dL in women.3

Individually, these risk factors have been known for some time to contribute to chronic disease. It is the clustering of these factors into a syndrome and their prevalence that bring metabolic syndrome X into the forefront of epidemic conditions in the United States. But "poor nutrition heads the list of lifestyle factors that make up the underlying causes of metabolic syndrome. Lifestyle intervention, including a focus on improving macro and micronutrient consumption, may provide a solution,'' Dr. Freedland observes.

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