Tackling metabolic syndrome by functional foods

January 1, 2013 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Tackling metabolic syndrome by functional foods

Year: 2013
Authors: Khan, M.I. Anjum, F.M. Sohaib, M. Sameen, A.
Publication Name: Rev. Endo. Metab. Disord.
Publication Details: Volume 14; Pages 287-297


The metabolic syndrome is one of the most vibrant and widely prevailing health concerns worldwide. It is characterized by several metabolic abnormalities, which involve obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, enhanced oxidative stress; hypertension and increased pro inflammatory state that ultimate contribute towards poor health. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in Pakistan according to different definitions is reported to be from 18 percent to 46 percent. Fifty percent of Pakistani population is at high risk of metabolic syndrome as being hypertensive. In studying dyslipidemia in Pakistan, hypertriglyceridemia is found in 27 to 54 percent of the population, whereas 68 to 81 percent has low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Population likes to eat healthier diet without changing their fundamental dietary pattern. Nutrition science has moved on from the classical concepts of avoiding nutrient deficiencies and basic nutritional adequacy to the concept of positive or optimal nutrition.  Many traditional food products including fruits, vegetables, flaxseed, oat, barley, whole grains, soy and milk have been found to contain component with potential health benefits. Nowadays, functional foods are used in the prevention and amelioration of several chronic diseases, such as the metabolic syndrome. The relation of the consumption of certain functional foods and the improvement in health status is regulated through health claims. This review focuses on the different features of the metabolic syndrome and the influence of functional foods on these aspects, involving dyslipidemia, improvement of insulin sensitivity, serum lipid profile, antioxidant status, anti-inflammatory status and weight management of humans. (Authors abstract)
This paper presents a comprehensive overview of various functional foods and their riels in the prevention and treatment of disease and chronic condition.  The Metabolic Syndrome includes central obesity, high triglycerides, reduced high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure, or fasting plasma glucose of human. 
The definition of functional foods is not universal; neither exists in a legislation of functional foods, which differs between different countries of the world. The most common used definitions arise from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and from the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). The IFIC described that functional foods are foods or dietary components that may provide a health benefit beyond providing basic nutrition. The ILSI regards a food as functional when ‘it has satisfactorily demonstrated to affect beneficially one or more target functions in the body, beyond adequate nutritional effects, in a way that is relevant to either an improved state of health and wellbeing and/or a reduction of risk of disease.
Factors contributing to this reshaping of the food supply include: an aging population, increased health care costs, self-efficacy and autonomy in health care, advancing scientific evidence that diet can alter disease prevalence and progression. The scientific evidence for functional foods and their physiologically active components can be categorized into 4 distinct areas clinical trials, animal studies, experimental in vitro laboratory studies, and epidemiologic studies.
The dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids (n3 PUFA) decreases the risk of heart disease, inhibits the growth of prostate and breast cancer, delays the loss of immunological functions,
and is required for normal fetal brain and visual development. The consumption of flaxseed has also been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol. Dietary flaxseed is one of the most concentrated sources of protein, dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Flaxseed also contains all of the amino acids for a complete protein. It is an excellent source of fiber, lecithin, vitamins and minerals. Moreover, flaxseed is significant for its role in lowering the risk of breast and colon cancers.  Among the major seed oils, flaxseed oil contains the most (57 percent) of the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA. It also contains significant level of fiber-associated compounds known as lignans. The two primary mammalian lignans, enterodiol and its oxidation product, enterolactone, are formed in the intestinal tract by bacterial action on plant lignan precursors. Flaxseed is the richest source of mammalian lignin precursors. The regular consumption of flaxseed has also been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol, as well as platelet aggregation.
The papers provides an impressive review of the role of functional foods in dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, anti-hypertensive and anti-inflammatory potential of functional foods, and the thermogenic properties of functional foods and weight loss.  Nutritional therapies can potentially prevent or may decrease the chances of incidence of these syndromes. Considerable experimental evidence suggest that functional foods and nutritional supplements can potentiate the insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, obesity, hypertension and dyslipidemia have been reversed via targeted application of these essential nutrients as functional foods. In a nutshell, the use of functional and designer foods endowed with solid scientific evidence of efficacy would help to curtail the incidence of syndromes. (Editors comments)

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