An unhealthy diet that is high in fat and carbohydrates can lead to metabolic syndrome – which includes obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and high cholesterol. If left untreated, the symptoms of metabolic syndrome can lead to more serious conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
But is a poor diet enough to trigger metabolic syndrome? Though it affects as much as one quarter of the world's population, some researchers believe that more factors are at play here than simple eating habits. Studies suggest that inadequate vitamin D consumption may contribute to metabolic syndrome, while getting enough may prevent it.
A study published in Frontiers found that vitamin D may improve the composition of important gut flora, which may in turn help the body avoid developing these conditions. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Sichuan University in China found mice that were fed a diet high in fat and cholesterol tended to have an imbalance of gut bacteria. As a result, these mice were more likely to develop higher blood sugar levels and more fat in their livers.
But the study also found mice that received enough vitamin D avoided developing some of the worst symptoms, in spite of their diets.
Additional studies have not yet confirmed whether this link can also be observed in humans, but researchers plan to move forward with this line of research. Since vitamin D deficiency is believed to affect between 30 to 60 percent of the world's population, any link between this problem and metabolic syndrome could lead to an important shift in how we view nutrition.
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