Medical Foods and Metabolic Syndrome
By Christine Cheng, R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph.
High blood pressure, increased blood glucose levels, excess body fat around the waist, elevated triglyceride levels, and reduced HDL (or “good”) cholesterol levels…each of these risk factors are undesirable conditions on their own, but if you have a combination of any three of these, you may have Metabolic Syndrome. Although having Metabolic Syndrome increases your risk of having heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, it is not an inevitable conclusion. A physician-approved exercise plan along with some conscious changes in the diet to include more fibre, vegetables and fruit will go a long way to improve each of these risk factors. For some people, inclusion of a Medical Food such as Ultrameal® can help meet their health goals.
But, what is a “Medical Food”? It is not simply a protein shake or meal replacement. In order to be designated a Medical Food by the FDA, the nutritional supplement must be formulated and 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”. In the case of Ultrameal®, these are a line of supplements designed to nutritionally support the management of conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, such as central obesity, insulin resistance, and altered body composition.
All of the ULTRAMEAL® products are intended to provide a low-glycemic-index meal option that can support healthy body composition by targeting fat loss and maintaining lean body mass (i.e., muscle mass). Although Ultrameal® products are not geared solely towards weight loss, it is important to note that the maintenance of lean body mass is key to the long-term success of any weight loss program as muscle can burn calories even while the body is at rest, i.e., not exercising.
For those with metabolic syndrome who are looking to target their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, ULTRAMEAL® PLUS contains plant sterols, which along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. Those suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions (such as osteoarthritis) would benefit from the selective kinase response modulators (SKRMs) found in ULTRAMEAL® PLUS 360. SKRMs help reduce inflammation by inhibiting the formation of PGE2, a signalling molecule that is involved in the inflammatory process. They have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity thus helping with blood glucose control.
For most people, including 2 servings of Ultrameal® as part of their daily diet can produce pronounced effects on cholesterol levels and weight. In conjunction with exercise and a healthy diet, and under the supervision of a trained healthcare-provider, significant benefits can be seen in as little as 12 weeks. Remember to always consult with your physician before starting an exercise regimen if you have pre-existing health conditions. Ultrameal® can be safely used in most people, but consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products if you are on medications to ensure its safe use.
(Christine is a registered pharmacist with training in Natural Health and a passion for Integrative Medicine. She works alongside her brother, Fred, who is also a pharmacist at their unique family-owned and operated Pharmasave in Cloverdale, BC. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use.)