When a person has increased blood pressure, high glucose levels, too much weight around the waist, and high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, he/she is said to have metabolic syndrome, increasing that person’s risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, a trifecta of diseases with their own set of challenges and potential harm.
Metabolism is the term used for the process by which living cells produce energy. Challenges to our best metabolism include our own diet and lifestyle choices, the efficiency of our HPA-axis (including the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal glands, and thyroid), our body’s ability to digest foods and maintain blood sugar levels, and so much more.
In these studies, nutrients like carotenoids, turmeric, and magnesium showed promise to support better metabolism. And one review reminds us why whole grains are a much better choice when it comes to many metabolic-related functions.
Carotenoids Reduce Metabolic Syndrome
Doctors reviewed 11 metabolic syndrome studies between 1997 and 2017 covering 29,673 participants including adults and adolescents. Overall, as levels of mixed carotenoids increased, chances for metabolic syndrome decreased. The individual carotenoids beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin were most beneficial. According to the doctors, carotenoids may play a role in regulating and distributing fat—adipose—tissue, possibly reducing or preventing its accumulation around the abdomen, or waist, a key factor in metabolic syndrome. Carotenoids may also help reduce inflammatory factors and insulin resistance.
Reference: Nutrition Reviews; January, 2019, Vol. 77, No. 1
Turmeric reduced weight, improved mood
This study followed 90 healthy overweight adults, aged 50 to 69, who took a placebo or 979 mg of turmeric extract per day. At four, eight, and 12 weeks, those taking turmeric saw significant decreases in body weight, and improvements in body mass index scores, compared to placebo. At each of these points in the study, signs of inflammation, including C-reactive protein, decreased significantly vs. placebo.
Addressing mental health, participants took the Medical Outcomes Study and the Profile of Mood States Scale, both of which showed improved scores for the turmeric group, while not changing for placebo.
“Turmeric improved mental health and negative mood state, suggesting improvements not only in systemic inflammation, but also in neuro-inflammation in the central nervous system,” doctors said.
Reference: BMC Nutrition Journal; 2021, Vol. 20, Article No. 91, 1598
Magnesium improved insulin sensitivity, fasting glucose
Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar, and low levels have a link to insulin resistance, common in type 2 diabetes. In this review of 25 random-controlled trials, participants had or were likely to have diabetes.
Participants took a placebo or an oral magnesium supplement, with doctors measuring fasting glucose levels, and again after a two-hour oral glucose tolerance test. In both tests, those taking magnesium had improved glucose levels and better insulin sensitivity, compared to placebo.
Discussing the findings, doctors said the results suggest taking oral magnesium may improve glucose metabolism in those with diabetes, and in those who are likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Reference: Nutrients; 2021, Vol. 13, No. 11, 4074
Whole Grain Benefits
Eating whole grains instead of refined grains has many metabolic benefits. In this review of 25 placebo-controlled trials, lasting from two to 16 weeks, compared to those consuming refined grains, healthy adults who got more whole grains in the diet had lower total and LDL cholesterol levels, lower long-term average blood-sugar levels (A1C), and lower levels of the systemic inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein. Different whole grains had different benefits: whole oats lowered LDL cholesterol; brown rice decreased triglycerides.
Doctors concluded, in adults with or without greater chances for heart and circulatory events, whole grains can improve lipids, blood sugar, and reduce inflammation.
Reference: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics; 2020, Vol. 120, No. 11, 1859-83
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