Data continues to pour in from studies investigating the amazing health-protecting power of whole grains. The more we look, the more we find that whole grains do things in our diets that other foods don’t, and processed grains like white flour simply can’t. In the January 2006 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (volume 83, issue 1), a study titled “Whole-Grain Intake Is Inversely Associated with The Metabolic Syndrome and Mortality in Older Adults,” shows that older people who eat whole grains regularly had a significantly reduced risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome and lower fasting glucose levels. Conversely, refined grains were associated with higher fasting glucose and increased risk of metabolic syndrome. This builds on evidence published in 2002, “Effect Of Whole Grains on Insulin Sensitivity in Overweight Hyperinsulinemic Adults” (Am J Clin Nutr 2002, 75: 848-855), that showed a direct whole grain advantage over refined grains when it comes to managing healthy insulin levels.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of metabolic risk factors in one person. They include:
- Abdominal obesity – excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen.
- Blood chemistry imbalances – high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol – that foster plaque build-ups in artery walls.
- Elevated blood pressure.
- Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar).
- Prothrombotic state (high risk of clot formation).
- Proinflammatory state (increased risk of degenerative diseases).
The idea that a common set of symptoms presenting themselves in a single individual is an important marker for disease risk was discovered by Dr. Gerald Reaven, the eminent medical doctor and researcher from the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Reaven presented his evidence as the keynote speaker of the Arthur Furst Lecture on Nutrition and Disease Prevention at Stanford University in March of 2002.