Matthew Nelder's blog
Metabolic Syndrome (MS) is a collection of common metabolic disturbances that are especially prevalent in obese individuals. These metabolic disturbances include high circulating lipid levels, low HDL or “good cholesterol”, high blood pressure and high fasting plasma glucose levels. It is often incredibly challenging to get one of these issues under control, let alone several of them. Luckily, the men and women of the medical research community are tirelessly looking for new answers to the question that is obesity and they have yet again provided us with some answers.
You may be familiar with products known as functional foods. Basically, a functional food is a normal food product (not a supplement powder or pill) which is able to boost health or prevent certain diseases beyond basic nutritional requirements. A common example of a functional food could be something as simple as an orange juice fortified with folic acid.
A paper, which was published this month, reviewed years of scientific data regarding functional foods and their effects on some of the health issues mentioned above. The paper was published in the journal Reviews of Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders by Muhammad Issa Khan and colleagues.
Of all the worlds’ ills, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is by far a couple of the most insidious diseases. They often take years, even decades to develop and take hold, and oftentimes people fail to take action until it is too late. As a resident of Newfoundland, an island population in which CVD and T2D are particularly prevalent, I often see firsthand the effects these diseases can force an individual to endure.
While there are genetic factors that can predispose an individual to these illnesses, they are treatable and even preventable with the proper education and lifestyle. A study which was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition by Dr. David L. Katz, furthered that education a little more so that people who are at risk of developing these ailments may have another means to improve their quality of life. The study investigated the role of Walnuts on endothelial function in overweight adults with visceral obesity and other characteristics of Metabolic Syndrome, which is a risk factor for CVD and T2D.
When one thinks of eating disorders, it instantly conjures up images of young girls starving themselves to live up to some impossible standard of size. The truth is, it is not only females who suffer from these maladies but men as well. While almost everybody will acknowledge the fact, that yes, men can indeed suffer from eating disorders, they remain an underrepresented group.
This is an area which was in need of attention, as it appears men are more like to develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol under these conditions. The research paper was published in General Hospital Psychiatry and investigated the differences in the biological, psychological and social factors of Binge Eating Disorder, between men and women. Binge Eating Disorder is compulsively overeating and individuals who suffer from this disorder feel like there is little they can do to resist this urge. Binge eating sessions can last a couple of hours or entire days.
The study consisted of 190 obese participants in total, all of whom were diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and 49 of these participants were men. There was a strict criterion to be met before any of the participants were allowed to continue as a research subject, so all the results you see are not affected in any way by some outlier of mental or physical health.
Type 2 Diabetes is characterized by a disruption in glucose homeostasis in the body. While there are effective methods of addressing this issue, such as daily injections of insulin, these methods are not without their setbacks. It can be tedious, uncomfortable, and can easily be overdone resulting in low blood sugar. Many of you may be all too familiar with these unfortunate routines. Incorporating the appropriate nutrients into the diet can have profound effects on the management of diabetes, which may make each day substantially less taxing and one such nutrient is the amino acid, L-Arginine.
What’s the Big Deal?
It was recently revealed by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, that L-Arginine may act as a potent stimulant for the secretion of a chemical essential to glucose homeostasis, known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). This chemical increases insulin sensitivity and past studies have revealed that surgical and medicinal efforts to increase the secretion of GLP-1 have been effective in regulating glucose levels in the body. It may be possible to achieve the same results without invasive surgeries or pharmaceuticals by supplementing L-Arginine in the diet.
You may be familiar with food products that boast about being great sources of probiotics and with all the benefits probiotics can offer, it is some welcomed marketing in the world of nutrition. A recent discovery suggests that maintaining the levels of healthy bacteria in our digestive tracts may be more important than we could have ever imagined. Vanessa Ridaura, a grad student from Washington University, and her fellow researchers decided to investigate the link between the composition of gut bacteria and obesity. What Ms. Ridaura found was nothing short of astonishing.
How Gut Bacteria Influences Weight Gain
The gut bacteria from lean and obese mice were obtained and inserted in mice that had been born and raised in sterile conditions so no bacteria were present in their digestive tract prior to the treatment. These germ-free mice were then fed a diet of standard low fat chow and what resulted may have carved a new path in the understanding of obesity. The sterile mice which received gut bacteria from the obese rodents accumulated body fat much quicker than the mice which received gut bacteria from their lean counterparts.
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