Strategies for Preventing Metabolic Syndrome

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Increased fiber intake is associated with decreased insulin resistance. Reduce saturated fat intake to reduce insulin resistance.

Increased consumption of vegetables with carotenoids is associated with decreased fasting insulin.

Exercise prevents and reverses insulin resistance.

Stress reduction reduces insulin resistance.

Magnesium produces favorable changes in insulin sensitivity.

Chromium produces favorable changes in insulin sensitivity.

a-lipoic acid exerts antioxidative effects and improves insulin resistance.

Inula racemosa produces favorable changes in insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels.

Gymnema sylvestre produces favorable changes in insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels.

obesity prevention, and exercise.10 Mild to moderate alcohol intake, particularly red wine, has been shown to be protective.11

Therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing the morbidity of the four factors that comprise metabolic syndrome are currently widely available. Today, weight loss, physical activity, and treatment of the individual risk factors are the main approaches. In the meantime, research efforts focus on determining a particular genetic susceptibility to the syndrome and the interrelationships among bodily organs that may precipitate insulin resistance, with the aim of developing improved therapies.

However, one does not need to look far for the basic causes of metabolic syndrome. All four conditions (obesity, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, and hyperinsulinemia) can be linked to one related cause: poor dietary choices, namely, imbalanced consumption of simple carbohydrates. Thus, the main treatment for metabolic syndrome is dietary therapy. One study in women with a family history of cardiovascular disease, following a low-GI diet for four weeks, resulted in increased insulin sensitivity after a glucose challenge and increased glucose uptake in isolated fat cells. Even in lean young adults, a low-GI diet reduced muscle triglycerides, a marker of insulin resistance.12 In addition, consuming high levels of high-glycemic carbohydrates causes enhanced appetite and a tendency to overeat.13,14 However, a complete reversal of consuming refined carbohydrates and saturated fats and switching to a complex carbohydrate, protein-rich diet with healthy fatty-acid ratios is not likely to occur overnight. Patient compliance may be less than optimal, especially after 40 to 50 years of undesirable dietary habits. Switching to a low-glycemic natural sweetener, such as xylitol, may be helpful for some patients, as it has negligible effects on blood sugar levels.15 Attention must be paid to the metabolic costs of a highly refined carbohydrate diet; in particular, one must look at nutrients (minerals and vitamins) that are used to metabolize processed foods. During metabolism, the body uses simple carbohydrates (sugars and starches) to create energy. However, these foods contain very little or, in some instances, no vitamins or minerals, mainly as a result of food processing. The combined effect of eating these foods produces nutritional deficits because the nutritional cofactors (various vitamins and minerals) that are inherently missing from these foods are recruited from body stores to help the body metabolize nutritionally bereft foods. Over time, depletion and inadequate consumption of nutritional cofactors may make the body unable to function properly, which culminates in disease processes. The burden that these foods put on the body contributes to long-term suboptimal micronutrient levels that may result in lower levels of micronutrients, such as chromium and magnesium, in persons who have

Adjunctives for Treating Metabolic Syndrome

40-50 minutes of aerobic exercise, 4-5 times per week (after physician consent) 5-6 servings per day of vegetables

200-1,500 mg of magnesium, in divided doses, per day (may act as a cathartic laxative)

600 mg of chromium, in divided doses, per day 25-50 mg of vanadyl sulfate, twice per day

600 mg of a-lipoic acid, 3 times per day (high dose is used for severe conditions) 500 mg of Inula racemosa (root powder), 3 times per day 400 mg per day of Gymnema sylvestre (GS4, a water-soluble, standardized extract of the leaves of this herb)

metabolic syndrome. Perhaps, over time, chronic underreplacement of micronutrients may lead to yet another syndrome of which we are currently unaware. Today, we are only in the early stages of truly understanding and appreciating the roles that micronutrients play in human health and must deal with metabolic syndrome.

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