Metabolic Syndrome

Call-to-Action: Community Coordination to Reduce Metabolic Syndrome

The full preventive potentials of soybeans and their derivatives can be maximized by including them in comprehensive lifestyle behavior changes. The Food and Drug Administration (October 1999) recognized the benefits of soy foods on cardiovascular diseases in its statement that daily consumptions of 25 g of soy protein combined with other lifestyle modulations (i.e., exercise) helps prevent heart disease. The American Heart Association statement on the known modifiable risk factors in heart disease suggests that physicians and healthcare provide encouragement for the incorporation of soy foods into primary preventive therapy for elevations in total and LDL. The most frequently documented soybean effect has been the decrease in the total and bad LDL cholesterols, yet soybeans are also an excellent source of dietary soluble fiber which also is known to decrease serum.

Metabolic syndrome mandates that each of its five components be approached with diet/exercise as primary preventive therapy. Low-fat, high vegetable/fruits diets (Dietary Approaches to STOP Hypertension— DASH diet) have been shown to reduce both SBP and DBP in Afro-Americans as well as single-drug therapy. Hypertensive black subjects (n=133) within the DASH trial had decreases of 11.4 mmHg in SBP and 5.5 mmHg in DBP. Further restriction of sodium intake within the DASH diet indicated additive hypotensive effect on blood pressure. Blacks exhibited a 12.6 mmHg decrease SBP, yet only a 9.5-mmHg decrease was documented within other ethnic groups. Subjects most responsive to sodium restriction were those with established hypertension, blacks, and women. Comprehensive lifestyle modification (reduced weight, improved fitness, and sodium restriction) on control (PREMIER clinical trial) has also indicated that an additional 4.3-mmHg decrease in SBP occurs within DASH-type food therapy. Hence, physician education must now include pertinent heart-healthy properties of soy foods.

The surgeon general’s warning (overweight/obesity) and its Call-to-Action must now incorporate community resources with known dietary therapies that may reduce metabolic syndrome, especially within high-risk minority populations. Governmental surveys (NHANES 2000 and BRFSS 2001) have emphasized our nations’ obesity epidemic in the U.S. adult population, but there are dramatic increases in prevalence within the three major minority groups (African-, Mexican/Latino-, and Native Indian Americans. The major challenge facing physicians and healthcare providers hinges on our ability to disseminate the known preventive health education to high-risk minority groups in culturally sensitive educational models. Only after recognized ethnic/cultural barriers to and exercise lifestyle changes have been identified can we begin to reduce long-term effects of metabolic syndrome. There are no quick fixes to this pandemic, and soy supplements do not offer the solution because they do not possess the same heart-healthy properties as whole soy foods.
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