Metabolic syndrome is condition characterized by the presence of multiple risk factors in 1 patient, making that patient highly predisposed to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Metabolic risk factors according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute are: a large waistline, indicating abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, hypertension, and high fasting blood sugar level. A patient is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if he or she has at least 3 of these risk factors.
In a recent report, researchers at Kaiser Permanente stated that one way of lowering the risk for metabolic syndrome for women is breastfeeding.
Previous studies have shown that women with gestational diabetes have a much higher likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome. The protective effects of breastfeeding against metabolic syndrome were especially evident in women who suffered from gestational diabetes during pregnancy. The researchers looked at 704 women aged between 18 to 30 years at the start of the study and did not have metabolic syndrome. Over the 20-year follow-up, 120 cases of metabolic syndrome occurred after delivery. The researchers reported that breastfeeding among these women decreased metabolic risk syndrome by 39 to 56% in women who did not have gestation diabetes but it went as high as 44 to 86% among those who had gestational diabetes Furthermore, the protection seems to be correlated to the duration of the breastfeeding.
According to study author Dr. Erica Gunderson
In the study, he benefits of breastfeeding were not associated with weight gain and physical activity and even lifestyle but linked to less abdominal fat and high levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
Breast milk is considered to be the best food for babies. Only recently was it observed that the benefits of breastfeeding actually both ways. The child receives the best food nature can provide and the mother lower her risks for a wide range of diseases, from breast cancer to heart disease – and now metabolic syndrome.
Dr. Gunderson explains further:
“The Metabolic Syndrome is a clustering of risk factors related to obesity and metabolism that strongly predicts future diabetes and possibly, coronary heart disease during midlife and early death for women…Because the Metabolic Syndrome affects about 18 to 37 percent of U.S. women between ages 20-59, the childbearing years may be a vulnerable period for its development. Postpartum screening of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease may offer an important opportunity for primary prevention.”