Although most people consider the Metabolic Syndrome to be grounded in reality, there is a debate within scientific circles as to whether or not it actually exists. Everyone knows that all the disorders that make up the Metabolic Syndrome exist, but there is argument over whether the various components are the symptoms of the actual disease–the Metabolic Syndrome–or are they simply unrelated disorders that cluster together. Is the risk of having the Metabolic Syndrome greater than the combined risk of all the components?
A new paper published in Nutrition & Metabolism addresses the issue in an insightful manner. The authors first plucked from the vast scientific literature the five features of the Metabolic Syndrome than seem to be the common denominator of all the definitions in use: obesity (whether measured by weight, BMI, or waist circumference), elevated glucose and/or insulin levels, low HDL cholesterol, High triglycerides, and hypertension (high blood pressure). They then realized that all these disorders (or symptoms of the Metabolic Syndrome) were all reliably improved or eliminated by diets that restrict carbohydrate.
The authors conclude after examining the medical literature on carbohydrate restriction and the various components of the Metabolic Syndrome that the Metabolic Syndrome can be defined as a set of markers that respond to carbohydrate restriction.
I would encourage all to read the paper in its entirety (it’s available from the above link in PDF format, and is written in a way that can be appreciated by both the layman and the medically trained alike) to see the wide range of scientific studies on this issue. Keep this paper at hand for the next time someone says to you, “Low carbohydrate diets work? Yeah, right. Show me the studies.” You will be able to show them studies a plenty.
Metabolic Syndrome defined