The adverse effects of these diets have previously been discussed in epidemiological studies, by comparing obese populations to lean populations and defining various steps that lead to the development of obesity, such as high cholesterol, the onset of inflammation, hypertension, high glucose levels, etc. Scientists have, for the first time, demonstrated the very subtle negative effects of high calorie snacks in healthy men by giving volunteers a ‘challenge test’ and observing its effect on metabolism.

The ‘Challenge Test’ Helps Aspects: Causes Of Metabolic Syndrome

The human metabolism is extremely flexible and efficient, which makes it hard to study deviations in health due to stressors or intense exercise. Suzan Wopereis, Ph.D., TNO, Microbiology and Systems Biology Group Zeist, The Netherlands, along with her team decided to exploit this aspect of human metabolism by administering a ‘challenge test’ to volunteers in the form of a high-fat milkshake. The idea was to assess the effect of this test on metabolism.

Two groups of male volunteers were used for the study. One group consisted of 10 healthy men and the other consisted of nine men with metabolic syndrome and associated risk factors for various health complications. Both groups were given the high-fat milkshake and blood samples were collected before and after eight hours of consumption. The blood test measured 61 different biomarkers for a complete health assessment of the volunteers, such as cholesterol, blood sugar level, fat metabolism and inflammation.

Furthermore, the 10 healthy volunteers were given a snack diet for four weeks. Along with their usual diet, they had to consume an additional 1300 kcal per day. These could be in the form of savory or sugar, such as candies, peanuts, crisps, etc. After the four weeks, the response of the biomarkers was evaluated again.

Describing The Results

The results demonstrate that consuming a snack diet for four weeks reduces various aspects of flexibility in healthy men. The findings of the ‘challenge test’ and the integral study of various outcomes makes the current definition of ‘heath’ questionable.

The researchers observed that signaling molecules, such as hormones that regulate blood sugar levels, fat metabolism and inflammation, were altered in the healthy men after the study, similar to those indicative of adverse health. Without using the challenge test, the negative effects that a small four week snack-diet can have in metabolism of healthy individuals could not have been evaluated.

Significance Of The Finding– Causes Of Metabolic Syndrome

Understanding the mechanisms of flexibility via which the human body handles dietary imbalances has major implications in nutrition and biomedical science. This information could help scientists develop new and improved science-based nutritional interventions for health improvement and optimization. Moreover, the assessment of flexibility offers novel techniques to monitor subjects that are at a higher risk of developing diseases.

This study also helps identify potential biomarkers that could quantify health and become the basis of preventive strategies along with nutrition interventions. The latter can help modify the chronic lifestyle that leads to the development of metabolic syndrome and heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

This study is a segment of a larger movement in nutrition and health science where a shift from disease oriented biomarkers to health oriented biomarkers is implemented. Moreover, TNO is incorporating this approach into new concepts of personalized nutrition and health.