Breastfeeding prevents metabolic syndrome

June 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEART AND STROKE

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

The findings indicate that breastfeeding a child may have lasting favorable effects on a woman’s risk factors for later developing diabetes or heart disease.  “

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.”

Cola: drinking to your bad health

May 26, 2009 by  

colaIt is the staple drink of people of all ages nowadays – soda or cola drinks in different containers, forms and flavors. An alarming trend is the increasing consumption of sweetened drinks among adolescents and children. But how does cola, normal, light, diet or zero affect our health?

Here some latest findings:

Metabolic Syndrome

It doesn’t matter whether it’s glucose or fructose. The sweeteners in the drinks you consume lead to metabolic syndrome that increases risks for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to a study at University of California Davis.


Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, including soda, in children result in about 110 to 165 excess calories per day, leading to an energy imbalance, e.g. more calories taken in than calories expended for growth, bodily function, and physical movement. The result is weight gain and eventually obesity. This is according to a study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.


Excessive cola consumption can result in hypokalemia or severely low blood potassium, according to Greek researchers. It is characterized by mild weakness to severe paralysis of the muscles. Hypokalemia is caused by excessive consumption of glucose, fructose and caffeine – all found in cola drinks.

Here is a case study:
A 21 year-old woman was consuming up to three litres of cola a day… complained of fatigue, appetite loss and persistent vomiting. An electrocardiagram also revealed she had a heart blockage, while blood tests showed she had low potassium levels.

Bone demineralization

German researchers have observed that cola consumption, but not other carbonate drinks leads to softer bones in women. This was true for normal as well as diet cola, but also for decaffeinated cola.

It is undeniable that sweetened drinks, regardless of the type of sweetener used, pose health risks especially when consumed in large quantities.

It is estimated that the worldwide consumption of soft drinks in 2007 was 552 billion liters, which translate to about 83 liters per person per year. This is expected to increase to 95 liters per person per year by 2012. In the US alone consumption has already reached 212 litres per person per year (on average).

Dr Moses Elisaf from the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Ioannina, Greece

“And the soft drink industry needs to promote safe and moderate use of its products for all age groups, reduce serving sizes and pay heed to the rising call for healthier drinks.”

Photo crecit: stock.xchng

Dangerous combination: salt and metabolic syndrome

February 18, 2009 by  

Metabolic syndrome makes you sensitive to sodium, hence salt. This is the result of a Chinese population-based dietary intervention study published in the latest issue of The Lancet. Our common table salt, that white powder that we eat everyday is mainly sodium chloride.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of medical conditions that put a person at risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These conditions are:

High blood pressure

High blood sugar levels

High levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood

Low levels of HDL, the good cholesterol, in your blood

Too much fat around your waist

Researchers from Tulane University in New Orleans report that having a metabolic syndrome increases people’s sensistivity to salt causing their blood pressure to shoot up. This salt sensitivity was described as

as a decrease in mean arterial BP of more than 5 mm Hg during low-sodium intervention or an increase of more than 5 mm Hg during high-sodium intervention.

The dietary intervention study looked at1906 adult participants who received a low-sodium diet for seven days followed by a 6-fold higher sodium diet for another seven days. The results show that those with metabolic syndrome (283 participants) has an almost two-fold higher risk of having salt sensitivity. The more conditions indicating metabolic syndrome a person has, the higher is the salt sensitivity.

The study was conducted in Northern China where salt has been used for centuries as food preservative in rural areas, translating into high salt intake. However, despite the alternatives that technology has brought about (e.g. refrigeration, freezing, canning, and fresh food supply), people still eat high quantities of salt because it has become a dietary habit. There is an urgent need to break this habit as the prevalence of hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders are skyrocketing in China.

Salt reduction strategies have been implemented in many countries with quite some success. These strategies are usually simple, e.g. providing a measuring scoop for cooking, etc.

The authors conclude that “if salt-sensitive hypertension is recorded in Chinese people more frequently than in other countries, then reduction of salt intake should become a national campaign.”

In my upcoming posts, I will be writing more about salt in our diet, the current requirements and some yummy low salt recipes. Stay tuned!

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.