Are There Alternative Options for Treating Metabolic Syndrome?
As recommended by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, the first line of treatment for metabolic syndrome is lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, weight loss, plenty of moderately strenuous exercise and no smoking.
Scientific studies have shown huge health benefits when small but positive lifestyle changes are implemented where risk factors related to metabolic syndrome exist. In fact, by implementing a natural approach in treating metabolic syndrome, some of the side effects and long term adverse effects of prescribed medications can be avoided.
Some alternative approaches in the treatment and prevention of metabolic syndrome are as follows:
- Soluble fibers (beta glucan extract) – Recent research shows certain fractions of specific types of soluble fiber (beta glucans) may be extremely effective in lowering blood cholesterol, balancing blood glucose and helping to promote weight loss. Beta glucans are sugars that are found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants, such as oats and barley. They are sometimes used as medicine.
- Soluble fibers from food - Sources of soluble fiber from food are oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (especially EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) ) - The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week. However, supplementation with a high quality fish oil capsule can be an effective source of omega-3 fatty acids as well.
- Antioxidants – Antioxidants, also known as free radical scavengers, are molecules that fight free radicals from building up in the body. Free radicals are a type of unstable molecule that is made during normal cell metabolism such as food digestion and energy production, or as a consequence of some external influence such as toxins. Free radicals, when allowed to build up in the system, can cause damage to cell membranes that may cause cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature aging. Examples of antioxidants include alpha lipoic acid, lycopene, selenium, beta-carotene, vitamin C, E, and A, and coenzyme-Q10.
- Herbs/Botanicals – Plants have been a source of therapeutic agents for more than 5000 years. Approximately 25% of the modern medications are developed from plants. Herbs and botanicals are supplements that contain extracts or active ingredients from the roots, berries, seeds, stems, leaves, buds or flowers of plants. Some herbs and botanicals have been studied and tested to be effective as potentially beneficial in the management of metabolic syndrome. Examples include cinnamonum tamala (cinnamon), milk thistle and Korean ginseng.
- Functional Foods – Functional foods are foods that promote health by providing an additional physiological benefit beyond that of meeting basic nutritional needs. Health Agencies of the Federal Government in the U.S. have recently acknowledged the ability of natural supplements (or functional foods) to contribute to the prevention of disease, in particular the prevention of cardiovascular disease. It was Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine that said “food is medicine”. Eating functional foods in combination with other healthy lifestyle changes can prevent or slow the progression of metabolic syndrome. Soy, oats, fruits, vegetables, flaxseed, tomatoes, and tea are just a few examples of functional foods. Orange juice fortified with calcium, and margarines fortified with calcium are additional examples.
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Mayo Clinic "Metabolic Syndrome" http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/metabolic%20syndrome/DS00522 Retrieved September 30, 2011
NutriWatch "Functional Foods, Their Role in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion" http://www.nutriwatch.org/04Foods/ff.html Retrieved September 30, 2011
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