Great Science on What We Should Eat

In recent years, medical researchers have recognized some common denominators in chronic degenerative diseases:  insulin resistance, long-term inflammation, high blood pressure, and cholesterol imbalance (to name a few).  In fact, several of these factors have been grouped together to form metabolic syndrome, a constellation of symptoms including at least 3 of the following 5 conditions:

  • Fasting blood sugar (glucose) ≥100 mg/dL
  • Blood pressure ≥130/85 mm Hg
  • Triglycerides ≥150 mg/dL
  • HDL-C (“good cholesterol”) < 40 mg/dL in men or < 50 mg/dL in women
  • Waist circumference ≥40 inches in men or ≥35 inches in women

I often talk to patients about dietary factors to reduce these risk factors, mainly focused on low glycemic index foods — healthy foods that stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day.  In a recent study (1), researchers used a dietary intervention for overweight middle-aged adults that significantly improved many of these markers for cardiometabolic risk.  Key components of the diet included the following:
  • Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil)
  • A focus on low glycemic index meals
  • Viscous dietary fiber and plant sterols/stanols
  • Whole grains, soybeans, and almonds
  • Probiotic bacteria supplement
Sound familiar?  If you’ve been through FirstLine Therapy with me, this sounds an awful lot like that diet plan.  Most of these factors are available through sensible consumption of whole foods.  Some are more easily obtained through supplements (probiotic bacteria) or medical food meal replacements (viscous fiber, plant sterols/stanols).  And the results for good adherence to this diet?
  • Total cholesterol decreased by 26%
  • LDL (“bad cholesterol”) decreased by 34%
  • hs-CRP (a marker of systemic inflammation) decreased by 29%
  • Systolic blood pressure dropped by 8%
Once again, science is showing that a common-sense, supplemented Mediterranean diet is as good as pharmaceuticals for improving cardiometabolic health — without the side effects.
1.  Juscelino Tovar; Anne Nilsson; Maria Johansson; Rickard Ekesbo; Ann-Margreth Åberg; Ulla Johansson; Inger Björck.  A Diet Based on Multiple Functional Concepts Improves Cardiometabolic Risk Parameters in Healthy Subjects.  Nutr Metab. 2012;9(29).  Accessed August 29, 2012 at

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