Metabolic Syndrome Tied to Poor Nutrition

<"">Metabolic syndrome has been linked to poor nutrition in a study conducted by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and the Corporacion Ecuatoriana de Biotecnologia. The study was concerned with increased life expectancy seen in Latin America and diseases that appear to be age related. Study results have been published online ahead of print in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

Metabolic syndrome has been tied to increased risks for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In Ecuador, the syndrome was seen in lower-income, urban locations in Ecuador where diets low in micronutrients were more prevalent, said NewsWise.

According to the American Heart Association, metabolic syndrome consists of several risk factors present in one individual: Abdominal obesity; atherogenic dyslipidemia (high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol); high blood pressure; insulin resistance or glucose intolerance; prothrombotic state (increased fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor–1), and proinflammatory state, which is an elevated C-reactive blood protein.

The team found that, based on the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) definition, 40 percent of the participants were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, with most—81 percent—being female. The IDF states that metabolic syndrome exists in men and women who are centrally obese, which is determined by hip and waist circumference, and with two of four metabolic risk factors, said NewsWise.

The study looked at 352 people—225 women, 127 men—aged 65 and older who reside in one of thee lower income areas near the capital of Ecuador, and focused on the incidence of metabolic syndrome and micronutrients (folate, zinc, and vitamins C, B12, and E), wrote NewsWise. Study participants documented what they ate in bi-weekly interviews; blood samples were also taken bi-weekly.

“In this population of low-income Ecuadorians, we observed a pattern of high carbohydrate, high sodium diets lacking in healthy fats and good sources of protein. Our blood analyses indicates a significant number of participants weren’t consuming enough of a range of micronutrients,” said senior author Simin Nikbin Meydani, PhD, DVM, director of the USDA HNRCA and the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA, quoted NewsWise. “After adjusting for age and sex, we observed significant relationships between the metabolic syndrome and two of the micronutrients, vitamins C and E,” he added.

“As a group, the participants did not exhibit low blood levels of vitamin E,” Meydani added. “The association suggests that having higher blood levels of vitamin E may protect against the metabolic syndrome,” reported NewsWise.

Decreased vitamin C blood levels were seen in the vast majority—82 percent—of the group, which the team felt could be due to reduced fresh fruits and vegetables in the participants’ diets, said NewsWise. Participants’ diets consisted mainly of white rice, potatoes, sugar, and white bread. The study revealed that 55 percent of the females and 33 percent of the males studied were overweight.

“With high-calorie foods lacking essential nutrients serving as pillars of the diet, it is possible to be both overweight and malnourished,” Meydani said. “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 the metabolic syndrome” quoted NewsWise.

Meydani and the team also found a significant association between metabolic syndrome and C-reactive protein (CRP), which is an indicator of low-grade inflammation, which is connected to an increased of cardiovascular disease, said NewsWise. Increased CRP blood levels were seen in half of the study group.

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