UCLA scientists found that the healthy lifestyle taught at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa not only controlled the Metabolic Syndrome but also reversed it.*
There is no magic pill that cleans up the cluster of problems called Metabolic Syndrome, a condition now epidemic in the U.S. More than 64 million Americans have the Metabolic Syndrome (roughly one in four adults) and 40% of adults over age 40. More and more kids are being diagnosed with the syndrome as well.
Having the Metabolic Syndrome puts you at major risk for diabetes and heart disease. Experts like Dr. David Heber of UCLA’s School of Human Nutrition believe that in the next decade roughly 80% of all heart disease will be due to the Metabolic Syndrome, type 2 diabetes, or both.
According to guidelines established by the National Cholesterol Education Program, you probably have the Metabolic Syndrome if you have three or more of the following five risk factors:
- Abdominal obesity: a waist of 40 inches or more for men, 35 inches or more for women.
- High triglycerides: 150 mg/dL or more.
- Low HDL (“good”) cholesterol: below 40 mg/dL for men, below 50 for women. Most people with the syndrome also have more small, dense LDL (“very bad”) cholesterol particles. (These small, dense LDLs are usually not measured with standard blood lipid profiles. To monitor them, the physicians at the Pritikin Center order specialized blood tests.)
- High blood pressure: 130/85 or higher (or if you are taking hypertension medication).
- Elevated fasting blood sugar (glucose): 100 mg/dL or more.
Most Effective Approach
The most effective approach to treat and reverse Metabolic Syndrome is the most natural one – a healthy diet and regular exercise, argue experts like Dr. Paul Ridker of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. A healthy lifestyle targets what are often the causes of Metabolic Syndrome: poor diet and excess body fat.
In recently published research, UCLA scientists found that the healthy lifestyle taught at the Pritikin Longevity Center not only controlled the Metabolic Syndrome but also reversed it.*
The scientists followed 31 overweight men, ages 46 to 76, who were at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Half had the Metabolic Syndrome; the other half had type 2 diabetes, or both diabetes and the syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes Disappears
In just three weeks, the men’s health improved dramatically. In fact, in 50% of the men, the Pritikin Program reversed the clinical diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes.
“The study shows that type 2 diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome can be reversed solely through lifestyle changes,” announced lead researcher Dr. Christian K Roberts of UCLA.
The results were all the more encouraging because the men in the study did not have to wait till they had lost substantial amounts of weight before netting huge health benefits. In just 21 days of starting the Pritikin Program – after shedding just 10 pounds, on average – the men “improved many factors that contribute to heart disease, including insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and markers of developing atherosclerosis [plaque build-up in the arteries],” stated Dr. Roberts.
Another key benefit: the men enjoyed large amounts of filling, satisfying food. Noted Roberts: “This is a departure from most diets, which usually leave the dieter feeling hungry.”
The study’s results echo earlier research, which followed 72 people, all with the Metabolic Syndrome, who came to the Pritikin Longevity Center. After three weeks, the majority were diagnosed as no longer having the syndrome. Fasting insulin levels had fallen, on average, 30 to 40%. **
Reverse Metabolic Syndrome – Next Steps
Trials outside the laboratory environment are needed to test the Pritikin Program in the general population, but “the findings are likely generalizable,” concluded Roberts, “and the payoff for individuals and society could be enormous.”
* Journal of Applied Physiology (December 15, 2005). doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01292.2005
** American Journal of Cardiology, 1992; 69: 440.