A risky condition
Metabolic syndrome is defined as having three or more of the following:
- Alterations in blood fats (high total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, and high triglycerides,
- Abdominal obesity
- Elevated blood sugar
- Elevated blood pressure
People with metabolic syndrome are at significantly higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke and developing diabetes than people without the condition. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome is steadily increasing worldwide in parallel with rising obesity rates.
Fiber fights against metabolic syndrome
High-fiber diets are associated with lower body weight and smaller waist size, better blood fat (lipid) profiles, and lower blood sugar levels. But many people don't get the recommended 25 to 30 grams of fiber they need each day.
Psyllium, a soluble fiber, can be taken as a supplement. When added to water, it takes on a gelatin-like consistency that may help create a feeling of fullness and decrease cholesterol and glucose absorption. Psyllium tends to cause less bloating and gas than many other fiber supplements since it doesn't ferment in the intestines as easily.
A review of studies conducted over the past 32 years showed that taking a psyllium supplement helps decrease the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. It seems to improve blood sugar levels, insulin response (how much insulin is released into the bloodstream after a meal), and blood fats. More studies are needed to determine if psyllium can help lower blood pressure and aid in weight loss. "Research to date does support the notion that the consumption of psyllium may provide benefits to many components of metabolic syndrome," concluded the researchers.
Seize the reins
If you have metabolic syndrome, look at it as an opportunity to change the course of your health. There are plenty of things you can do in addition to adding psyllium to your daily regimen. To get out of the risk zone and into well-being:
- Be active. Exercise helps lower your blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, aid in weight loss, and enhance your metabolism so you burn more calories even when you're at rest. It's one of the single best things you can do to stop metabolic syndrome in its tracks!
- Clean up your diet. Switch out white bread and pastas for whole grain versions, skip the sugar in your coffee, opt for fiber-rich protein sources like beans and nuts in place of meat, and make sure you eat some fruits and veggies at every meal. Every little change helps add up to a healthier you.
- Quit smoking. This is often easier said than done, so get the help you need to quit for good. Smoking increases your risk for countless health problems; quitting helps lower your risk of many of these right away.
(Obes Rev 2012;doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X)