Metabolic syndrome rates are on the rise across North America. And it’s something we should all be worried about.
The condition occurs when a collection of symptoms — including abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, raised blood triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, low HDL (good!) cholesterol levels and blood sugar control (insulin resistance) problems — increase our risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
A recent study, published in the journal ‘Public Health Nutrition,’ may hold the key to figuring out why the condition occurs — and how we can stave it off.
The researchers — from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University — looked at 225 woman and 127 men, over the age of 65, from three poor neighborhoods in Ecuador. They found metabolic syndrome was prevalent in these communities largely because of their low-in-micronutrients diet (an issue that plagues people in well-off neighborhoods across North America).
“We observed a pattern of high carbohydrate, high sodium diets lacking in healthy fats and good sources of protein. Our blood analyses indicated a significant number of participants weren’t consuming enough of a range of micronutrients,” says senior author Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani. “After adjusting for age and sex, we observed significant relationships between the metabolic syndrome and two of the micronutrients, vitamins C and E.”
The authors found the majority of calories in the participants’ diet came from white rice, potatoes, sugar and white bread. They also found 55 per cent of the women were overweight; 33 per of men were.
“With high-calorie foods… Serving as pillars of the diet, it is possible to be both overweight and malnourished,” adds Meydani. “Our data suggests that limited consumption of nutrient-dense foods — such as chicken, vegetables and legumes — makes this small population of Ecuadorian elders even more susceptible to metabolic syndrome.”
Which brings me to my point: If you want to avoid metabolic syndrome in your own life, you’ll have to eat lots of nutrient-dense foods. Avoid highly processed fare lacking in nutrients — like white flour, white rice and sugar — in favor of meat, vegetables and legumes that are packed with nutrients. Whole foods contain all of the micronutrients necessary for health, whereas their processed counterparts are almost always stripped of anything nutritious or good.
Author by Doug DiPasquale