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Metabolic syndrome refers to the simultaneous presence of several interconnected metabolic disorders, such as decreased glucose tolerance (susceptibility to increasing blood sugar levels), high blood pressure, obesity (primarily abdominal), high blood fat levels (cholesterol and triglyceride), which alone can increase the probability of developing cardiovascular diseases, cardiac infarction, stroke and type 2 diabetes, but jointly they further raise the risk.
According to estimates, 20-25% of the world’s adult population suffer from metabolic syndrome. They are three times more likely to suffer from cardiac infarction or stroke and two times more likely to die because of these conditions than those who are not affected by the disease. Furthermore, metabolic syndrome patients are five times more likely to struggle with type 2 diabetes.
The causes of the described disease above, metabolic syndrome, are researched continuously. However, it has already become clear that the main causes are insulin resistance and abdominal obesity.
Additional factors include: genetics, a physically passive lifestyle, aging and hormonal changes. Insulin resistance forms the basis of PCOS syndrome, affecting one in ten women, which is responsible for a large part of infertility cases and may even lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
According to the recommendations of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the primary treatment of metabolic syndrome consists of lowered calorie intake (the target is 5-10% weight loss in the first year), and more physical activity and changes in nutrition (appropriate intake of carbon-hydrates). In more serious cases, the disease may require medicinal treatment.
Since its discovery, acai has been the subject of several studies. Researchers have primarily examined the wide range of antioxidants it contains, as well as the positive effects of these antioxidants. It has been known that antioxidant therapies may decrease insulin resistance, while oxidative stress increases it. Research has also verified that polyphenols, which belong to the group of antioxidants, have a beneficial effect on the absorption of sugar, insulin levels and blood fats. Thus it is no coincidence that acai, so rich in antioxidants and fibres, quickly became a subject of related research activities. A study from 2009 examined the effects of acai consumption in ten obese persons who had a high risk of metabolic syndrome. They measured the levels of blood sugar, insulin and blood fats, while they also traced the changes in blood pressure. Researchers found that after both fasting after meals blood sugar levels and insulin levels significantly decreased. The consumption of acai also decreased total cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol levels, while the levels of so-called good or HDL cholesterol did not decrease during the tests.
Acai could become such a popular ingredient for slimming diets due to all these effects, because its balancing effect on blood sugar levels helps to avoid sudden cravings, which so often upset diets.
According to the definition by IDF (International Diabetes Federation), an individual may have metabolic syndrome if the following symptoms are present at the same time:
If you have already developed one component of the metabolic syndrome, it is very likely that the other components will also occur with time. The more components that are present, the higher risk to one`s health.
The IDF consensus worldwide definition of the METABOLIC SYNDROME, International Diabetes Federation, 2006 Effects of Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) berry preparation on metabolic parameters in a healthy overweight population: a pilot study - Udani JK, Singh BB, Singh VJ, Barrett ML.; Nutr J. 2011 May 12