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Fasting and exercise effects on metabolic syndrome?

The metabolic syndrome (MS) describes a constellation of hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia that is caused by abdominal obesity and has also been variously termed X syndrome, insulin resistance syndrome, and the deadly quartet.

Along with obesity comes cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Through metabolic programming, these may also origin in the early stages of life such as pregnancy or lactation period. As per the best dietitian in India, regular physical activity decreases the chances of developing these disorders and help in preventing weight gain and other health problems in both children and adults.

Lack of physical activity leads to decreased insulin sensitivity and increased abdominal fat and thus regular physical activity is like a natural process favored to prevent insulin resistance in the body due to metabolic derangements. One of the reasons for that lack of physical activity could be the subclinical chronic inflammation that is associated with metabolic syndrome as both physically and psychologically, physical activity becomes less desirable when there is inflammation. Reactive Oxygen species (ROS) are produced in low or moderate amounts when regular skeletal muscle work is done. This is a part of hormesis in which desirable biological responses occur when the body is low-key exposed to toxins and other stress-inducing substances.

For example, exercise-induced increased production of ROS can be beneficial by evoking specific adaptations, such as increased antioxidant/oxidative damage repairing enzyme activity, increased resistance to oxidative stress, and lower levels of oxidative damage. Whereas, large or excess generation of ROS is related to harmful or detrimental effects.

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It has become evident that inflammation and oxidative stress, which are associated with obesity and overweight, play crucial roles in the pathophysiology of this metabolic syndrome. They also greatly impact related pathological outcomes. It seems likely that insulin resistance is at the center of several vicious cycles that exacerbate the disturbances, leading to intensification of oxidative stress.

These processes are furthermore aggravated by physical inactivity which is frequently found in obese patients. One of the reasons for physical inactivity could be the subclinical chronic inflammation that is associated with metabolic syndrome. An improvement in the exercise ability, induction of anti-inflammatory effects, boosts in the anti-oxidant capacity can be the result of hormetic stimuli. Regulation of fat and glucose metabolism leading to increased action of insulin and improvement of blood pressure control are the added benefits of exercising regularly. However, the exact duration and intensity of exercise have to be individualized.

Most of the parameters of metabolic syndrome can be improved by aerobic exercise alone or by combining aerobic and resistance exercises which also leads to a reduction in the waist circumference and systolic blood pressure. Aerobic exercise additionally reduces fasting plasma glucose, diastolic blood pressure, and triglycerides. Higher intensity exercise has more favorable effects on some risk factors like blood pressure and HDL cholesterol compared to lower intensity exercise. Both types and intensities of exercise can reduce the risk of metabolic disease.

Modern lifestyles favor longer periods of daily energy intake and shorter fasting periods. Disrupted eating habits are related to metabolic downfalls which contribute to the increasing number of people suffering from obesity and diabetes. Fasting brings various positive health impacts by improving metabolism by a complex hormetic response, suggesting that modulation of the fasting period can be used as a therapeutic intervention.

Studies suggest that both caloric intake and meal frequency may be important factors in metabolic disorders, and their relative influence varies according to gender. Lower meal frequency (2 or fewer meals/day) was associated with higher risk of metabolic syndrome compared to higher meal frequency (3 meals/ day).

Thermogenic activity aiding whole-body metabolism is regulated when white adipose tissue is converted to brown adipose tissue.

Browned fat or brown adipose tissue (BAT), which is known to improve insulin sensitivity, takes energy to create. Physiological stimuli like exposure to cold and exercise trigger the browning of WAT, which increases a body’s energy expenditure, burning off excess calories and hence WAT browning has been suggested as a possible approach to combating obesity.

Increase in the insulin secretion or Hyperinsulinemia which occurs as a result of insulin resistance may play an important role in the development of metabolic syndrome. Therefore, the therapeutic strategy for these patients should be weight loss, particularly a reduction in abdominal obesity.

In a cultural context, periods of deliberate fasting with restriction to the intake of solid food have been practiced worldwide, mostly on a traditional or religious background. Fasting leads to the initial stimulation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) as a characteristic physiologic equivalent of a stress reaction. Leptin decrease following the initiation of fasting has been identified as a strong signal and may play a crucial role in the neuroendocrine signaling in response to fasting. An empirical observation indicates that specifically, individuals with metabolic syndrome may frequently experience fasting-induced mood enhancement.

The clinical effects of therapeutic fasting have been investigated and a relevant decrease in the overall weight, decrease in systolic and diastolic BP and decrease in LDL-C, HDL-C, and LDL/HDL ratio of an individual with metabolic syndrome is observed. Studies from a nutritionist in India, shows fasting also lead to a marked drop of insulin and leptin levels with a concomitant pronounced increase in leptin receptors, adiponectin, and resistin.

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Updated: March 26, 2019 — 6:45 am
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