Fight Disease with Food

Medical food provides new and effective tools for health.
by Cara Lucas

The National Institute of Health defines metabolic syndrome as a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Mainly attributed to deep, visceral fat, apple-shaped individuals’ extra weight around the middle adds up in terms of health problems throughout the entire body. Besides the aforementioned characteristics, metabolic syndrome can cause or exasperate blood clotting and increase inflammation throughout the body, as well.

Getting the picture? Since food is what usually causes this unfortunate state, along with related health complications, it’s logical to think that food can also be the key to getting you out and on your way to transformed health, too.

Introducing medical food, what the FDA calls "a food which is formulated to be consumed or administered internally under the supervision of a physician and which is intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements, based on recognized scientific principles, are established by medical evaluation."

Food as medicine is a novel idea to some. Food as a supplement to a healthy lifestyle is expectedly more understood. However, according to a recent study, if individuals can learn to view food as both a medical treatment and a lifestyle choice, it can introduce longstanding health and even the reversal of serious, life-threatening diseases. And—it tastes a lot better than any healing elixir or tonic ever will!

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that metabolic syndrome can indeed be reversed. A study conducted on women with metabolic syndrome proves that by implementing the Mediterranean-style, low glycemic diet, along with a medical food containing phytosterols, soy protein, and extracts from hops and acacia for 12 weeks, one significantly decreases waist circumference, blood pressure, and plasma triglycerides.

“Lifestyle change is the key to improvement in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Studies indicate that long term adherence to a Mediterranean diet leads to resolution of metabolic syndrome in about 40 percent of subjects in two years,” explains Dr. Robert H. Lerman, MD, PhD, Director of Medicine and Extramural Clinical Research at Metagenics, Inc.

However, this particular study shows that combining the UltraMeal PLUS 360 medical food with a low-glycemic, Mediterranean-style diet leads to similar resolution of metabolic syndrome (over 40 percent) in just 12 weeks—a much shorter time period.

While patients who incorporate a medical food into their diet will improve their weight more rapidly, it is important to stress that using the medical food without a diet change defeats the purpose of solving long-term health complications associated with metabolic syndrome.

After taking part in the study, former participant Mary “Jeni” Guidi has lost a total of 50 pounds and is on her way to feeling like herself again.

“It was tough at first, but what I liked most about the Mediterranean-style, low glycemic diet is that it wasn’t restrictive in certain foods like other well-known diets, and the medical food was easy to incorporate into my schedule,” says Guidi.

During the program, Jeni saw a dietician who taught her about making healthier food and lifestyle choices. Using a bioelectrical impedance device, the dietician tracked Jeni’s body composition to ensure she was losing fat instead of muscle mass. By the end of the 12-week program, Jeni had her cholesterol and triglycerides down to normal levels and had lost 35 pounds.

“I feel better and am back to my ‘old’ self. I have more confidence and energy. I am more active with my son and can go outside to do the things I didn’t feel like doing before. Now, it’s a matter of eating smarter and making healthier choices,” Jeni said.

Many of the participants fit the medical food into their diet by incorporating it into a smoothie or a shake. While this study only used female participants, a similar study published in Nutrition and Metabolism in 2008 with both male and female participants yielded similar improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors.

Ultimately, these results prove that, yes, it is possible to reverse disease with diet. And with the addition of a medical food under supervision of your physician, faster results are attainable. But remember, there is no quick solution. Choose to change your lifestyle, and you will open the door to your best health yet.