What is Metabolic Dysfunction?
Metabolic dysfunction is partly the result of a heavy sugar and processed foods diet, according to my fellow health guide on the HealthCentral diet and exercise site. People with metabolic syndrome have a tendency to be overweight around the abdomen – having belly fat or an “apple shape.” A waist circumference of 35″ or more in women and 40″ or more in men is an indicator for metabolic syndrome.
In the New York Times best seller Fat Chance: Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease, author Dr. Robert H. Lustig points out that “a calorie is not a calorie.” Not all calories are equal: Whether the calorie comes from fructose, glucose, protein or fat is important to its metabolic effect and how much fat you accumulate from that calorie.
If metabolic dysfunction is at the root cause of your excess weight, a low-moderate calorie diet and exercise plan may not be enough to shed the pound.
This bears repeating. A low-to-moderate calorie diet and exercise may not lead to weight loss if you eat the wrong foods.
New York Times best seller Fat Chance: Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease by Dr. Robert H. Lustig.
Sugar, Not Fat, is the Culprit
In the late 1970s when the government mandated we get the fat out of our food, the food industry responded by pouring more sugar in. Be aware that sugar goes by a wide variety of names, including glucose, maltose, sucrose, and fructose. The result has been a perfect storm, disastrously altering our biochemistry and driving our eating habits out of our control, according to Dr. Lustig.
Dr. Andrew Weil says data suggest that consumption of sodas (diet or regular) and other products containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) like salad dressings and ketchup, jams, jellies, ice cream and many more foods may be linked to obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome in both adults and children. The conventional medical recommendation of a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet to lower triglycerides and bring down cholesterol is dead wrong, in his opinion. Read, Mediterranean Diet Fights Metabolic Syndrome and Belly Fat.
Diet for Metabolic Dysfunction
The Cleveland Clinic recommends the following dietary changes:
- Maintain a diet that keeps carbohydrates to no more than 50 percent of total calories.
- Eat foods defined as complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread (instead of white), brown rice (instead of white), and sugars that are unrefined (instead of refined; for example cookies, crackers).
- Increase your fiber consumption by eating legumes (for example, beans), whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Reduce your intake of red meats and poultry.
- Thirty percent of your daily calories should come from fat. Consume healthy fats such as those in canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and nuts.
- Consume no more than one drink a day for women, or two drinks a day for men.
Dr. Andrew Weil suggests the following principles for this way of eating:
• Eat small, frequent meals to keep blood sugar in a healthy range. Eating large meals can flood the bloodstream with glucose and insulin. Experiment until you find that you feel your best.
• Keep refined starches and sugars to a minimum, instead choosing those with a low glycemic index. (Sweet potatoes, winter squash and beans are examples of better carbohydrates.) You should also be aware of glycemic load in assessing dietary choices.
• Keep saturated fats and trans-fats to a minimum, but consume moderate amounts of monounsaturated oils, such as olive oil and some nut oils.
• Eat fish several times a week, emphasizing wild, cold-water fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines. Or take omega-3 supplements.
• Eat generous amounts of non-starchy vegetables, like cucumbers, bell peppers, and dark leafy greens, zucchini, eggplant, squash, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beans, radishes and spinach.
• Eat foods high in magnesium, which research has linked to lowering the incidence of metabolic syndrome. One gets magnesium by eating plenty of whole grains, leafy green vegetables (spinach is a great source) as well as almonds, cashews and other nuts, avocados, beans, soybeans, and halibut.
Exercise for Metabolic Dysfunction
The Cleveland Clinic also says that since physical inactivity and excess weight are the main underlying contributors to the development of metabolic syndrome, getting more exercise and losing weight can help reduce or prevent the complications associated with this condition. According to The Cleveland Clinic, increased activity alone can improve your insulin levels. Aerobic exercise such as a brisk 30-minute daily walk can result in a weight loss, improved blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Most health care providers recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Exercise may reduce the risk for heart disease even without accompanying weight loss. Read, Reversing Metabolic Syndrome.
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My Bariatric Life