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Nutrition to Help Reduce Metabolic Syndrome

Updated on May 11, 2013

Metabolic syndrome was previously known as syndrome X and is associated with insulin resistance.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by ...

  • abdominal obesity
  • high triglycerides
  • low HDL "good" cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • High fasting blood glucose

These risk factors are a big problem that can lead to chronic ill health. Let's look at how to reduce, or better yet, avoid them in the first place.

Reduce Sugar and Starchy Carbohydrates

Since the body with metabolic syndrome is unable to regulate blood sugar well, it is good idea to reduce the sugar load on the system by avoiding sugar and processed carbohydrates and starchy carbohydrates. Instead get carbohydrates from vegetables such a leafy greens or whole grains.

Also avoid hyglcemic index foods. The glycemic index tells you how fast the food turns into sugar. You can find out the glycemic index of a food from

Diet high in sugar and glycemic index promotes metabolic syndrome. High sugar in food means high sugar in the blood, then the pancreas has to put out high insulin to get the sugar out of the blood. The chronic elevated levels of insulin then makes the cells insulin resistant which over time leads to metabolic syndrome.

Reduce Fructose

Sugar is composed of glucose and fructose. Glucose is used for energy by your cells. It is fructose that is the bigger problem. The metabolism of fructose by the liver causes the characteristic of metabolic syndrome.

Avoid fructose and don't eat anything with high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup does not occur in nature and is a man-made industrial product that is found in some processed foods and soft drinks.

Article in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology says ...

"hepatic metabolism of fructose promotes de novo lipogenesis and intrahepatic lipid, inhibition of mitochondrial β-oxidation of long-chain fatty acids, triglyceride formation and steatosis, hepatic and skeletal muscle insulin resistance, and hyperglycemia."[2]

In the video on the right, Dr. Lustig says that fructose is a "toxin" and a "poison". At 20 minutes into the video. He says ...

"High fructose corn syrup and sucrose are the same. They are both equally bad. They're both dangerous. They're both poison. There I said it. Poison. My charge by the end of tonight is to demonstrate that fructose is a poison"[3]

In one of the slides in his talk, it writes ...

"Chronic fructose exposure promotes the Metabolic Syndrome" [slide at 44 minutes into video]

And in his book Fat Chance, Dr. Lustig writes ...

"Fructose isn't the only cause of obesity, but it is the primary cause of chronic metabolic disease, which kills ... slowly. Fructose can fry your liver..." [page 125]

He uses colorful language, doesn't he?

Granted, that fructose is not "acute toxins" of the type that we normally think of as toxin. But they are when consumed chronically year after year (say 1000 meals of the stuff).

What About Fruit?

Fruits do contain sugar and fructose. However, they also contain fiber which slows the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream. So they are lower in glycemic index than in fruit juices (which you should avoid).

Fruits (especially berries) are okay in moderation depending on the severity of the metabolic syndrome. Nevertheless, do not over-consume fruits. Vegetable should comprise a much larger portion of your diet than fruits. A ratio of 3 times more vegetables to fruit would be ideal.

Gary Taubes writes in his New York Times title "Is Sugar Toxic?" ...

"if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples"[4]

Increase Fiber

In the book Fat Chance, Dr. Robert Lustig mentions two antidotes to metabolic syndrome. One is fiber and the other is exercise. He writes ...

"Metabolic syndrome starts as your body accumulates energy, storing it in the liver and in visceral fat tissue. This makes the liver insulin resistant, which starts metabolic dysfunction ... " [page 95]

And how does fiber help?

"Once fiber (soluble and insoluble) is consumed with a meal, it forms a gelatinous barrier between the food and the intestinal wall. This delays the intestine's ability to absorb glucose, fructose, and fat." [page 135]

And by slowing glucose into the bloodstream, insulin and blood sugar does not spike so high.

But taking fiber supplements does not help. You have to get fiber from real foods. It appears that it is the insoluble fiber (the stringy part in vegetables and fruits) that is beneficial in reducing insulin resistance.

Exercise and Nutrition

Exercise maintain and builds muscle mass. More muscles means more ability to uptake and burn sugar from the blood.

Metabolic Syndrome is also caused by nutrient deficiencies. So make sure your foods have vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B's, vitamin C.

The book Fat Chance writes that ...

"Many epidemiologic studies demonstrate correlations between low blood levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome." [page 155]

Foods that Help Lower Blood Sugar

Some foods that helps lower blood sugar are[1] ...

  • Cinnamon
  • Berries (particularly blue berries)
  • Chamomile tea (possibly green tea also)
  • Garlic, onions, leeks, chives from the allium family
  • Parsley
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Flax seed
  • Lemon
  • Oat Bran


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    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

      Thanks for voting up.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very interesting and useful information within this informative and well written article.

      Vote up and more !!!