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Coffee and Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is not a single condition, but rather a group of factors that, taken together, put you at higher risk for various health problems. These range from type 2 diabetes to heart disease and even Alzheimer's Disease.

The American Diet Leads to Metabolic Syndrome
I've written in the past about the Metabolic Syndrome, which is a group of risk factors associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mortality in general. Among those risk factors are waist circumference, high blood pressure, fasting glucose levels, and poor cholesterol scores. While studies have linked diet to the individual risk factors, few studies have sought to link an overall dietary pattern with Metabolic Syndrome itself.

Diet and exercise good for older adults, too
The elderly are especially susceptible to what is known as "metabolic syndrome," an observed combination of risk factors that, taken together, represents an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. These risk factors include high blood pressure, poor cholesterol scores, and diabetes, along with high levels of the markers of inflammation. Obesity, also a risk factor for heart disease, usually increases with age, as well, compounding the elderly person's risk of heart attack.


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Metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer's

Butternut Squash Risotto

Metabolic syndrome has been defined as a combination of the following factors: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose levels, and poor cholesterol scores (including high triglycerides and low levels of HDL, or good cholesterol). Studies have shown that the metabolic syndrome carries with it an increased risk of type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease, and both of those conditions have been linked to higher risk of Alzheimer's.

Scientists in the UK and Australia sought to establish a direct link between metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer's by selecting 50 patients with probable Alzheimer's from Memory Disorder Clinics in Launceston, Australia, and Bristol, England (Arch Neurol 2007;64(1):93-96). 75 control patients were recruited from the Alzheimer's patients' spouses and from the surrounding communities. All 125 subjects were given full medical exams, including height and weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, and blood tests to measure glucose levels and cholesterol scores. In addition they were given Mini-Mental State Examinations to confirm dementia (for the Alzheimer's patients) or the lack thereof (for the control subjects).

They found that those with metabolic syndrome increased their risk of Alzheimer's by three times over those without the syndrome. Interestingly, Alzheimer's patients tended to have high blood pressure less frequently than those with a normal score on the Mini-Mental State Examination, and those with high blood pressure seemed to have a reduced risk of Alzheimer's.

What this means for you

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of factors, not a list of requirements, so if you have three of the four factors I listed above, this is your wake-up call. All of the factors of metabolic syndrome can be improved by choosing to eat healthfully. The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan is just one of the resources on the Dr. Gourmet website that will help you learn how to cook and eat healthy, delicious meals. No matter how you improve your diet, chances are if you do, you'll remember how longer.

First posted: January 10, 2007