Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Connecting the Dots: Metabolic Syndrome

Last month I wrote about a ground-breaking paper - Carbohydrate restriction improves the features of Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome may be defined by the response to carbohydrate restriction - that showed the features of Metabolic Syndrome are the very same list of things that reverse with a low-carbohydrate diet - high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol), high blood sugar, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and obesity.

For years I've been intrigued by the improvements seen in the majority who try a controlled-carb approach for weight loss and/or improving their health. As I highlighted in my previous article, the estimate today is that 25% of Americans have Metabolic Syndrome. The disorder significantly increases their risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. With 1 in 4 adults in the United States suffering, we need to seriously address treatments - even ones that seem to contradict our beliefs about what constitutes a healthful diet - and get to the root cause(s) of the condition.

As more data is published one major change in our diet continues to glare brightly at anyone paying attention - our intake of added sugars has increased significantly in the last thirty years with marked increased intake of fructose while we've decreased our intake of table sugar in our foods. This change is significantly impacting our health - for the worse. A review of the literature makes this clear - study after study finds fructose and high fructose corn syrup implicated in the obesity epidemic as it disrupts metabolism and sets the stage for metabolic syndrome.

Just what fructose does to our metabolism is a question that researchers continue to investigate. In DeHaviland At Work Network, the article Sugar 'speeds up obesity' highlights findings from research at University of Florida, Gainsville.

A research team at University of Florida said fructose - found in common sugar, processed foods and even fruit - can render the body's metabolism unable to function effectively, causing faster-than-usual weight gain. The scientists say the findings are significant as many modern, processed foods are packed with high levels of fructose.

In the animal study, led by Dr. Richard J Johnson, scientists found that fructose tricked the animals into thinking they were hungrier than they really were, causing them to eat more and pile on the pounds.

The scientists say fructose hampers the body's metabolism and causes a rise in uric acid in the bloodstream, which affects how the body stores and uses sugar. Consuming fructose over a long period of time, the scientists said, could lead to metabolic syndrome which causes obesity, as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is also a precursor to type two diabetes.

In the various tests conducted during the study, researchers fed rats two distinct diets. The first was a high-fructose diet and the second a low-fructose diet. The rats fed the high-fructose diet experienced increases in uric acid in their bloodstream and developed features of metabolic syndrome - specifically hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and hyperuricemia.

From the abstract, the researchers concluded that "These data provide the first evidence that uric acid may be a cause of the metabolic syndrome, possibly due to its ability to inhibit endothelial function. Fructose may have a major role in the epidemic of metabolic syndrome and obesity due to its ability to raise uric acid."

In the DeHaviland article, Dr. Johnson said "There may be more than just the common concept that the reason a person gets fat is because they eat too many calories and they don't do enough exercise. Our data suggest certain foods and, in particular, fructose may actually speed the process for a person to become obese."

Exactly what I've been saying for years now!

To give you an idea of just how increased sugar and fructose intake in the diet affects health - a stunning example is found from Denmark.

In 1880, the average Danish citizen consumed 29 pounds of refined sugar annually. At that time, the recorded death rate from diabetes was 1.8 per 100,000. In 1911, consumption almost tripled to 82 pounds per person, and the death rate from diabetes more than quadrupled to 8 per 100,000. In 1970's as sugar consumption continued to rise, the death rate from diabetes rose again to 10.8 per 100,000 - a trend which has continued into the 21st century with Denmark (in 2003) seeing 18.3 deaths per 100,000 from diabetes. That year the sugar consumption of the population was 120 pounds per person.

Do you see a trend?

Any questions?

No comments:

Post a Comment