Metabolic syndrome, characterized by abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and hyperglycaemia, affects 34 percent of the U.S. adult population. MetS has been demonstrated to be affected by dietary components. Epidemiological data generally shows that there is an inverse correlation between dairy consumption and metabolic syndrome.
Clinical studies have also shown associations between increased dairy intake and the lowering of one or several parameters of metabolic syndrome including weight and waist circumference, blood pressure, dyslipidemia and hyperglycaemia. Additional benefits of dairy have been found in the form of maintaining vascular function and decreasing hyperglycaemia and inflammation, as well as reductions in type 2 diabetes.
Several of the components of dairy products may explain how they protect the heart and metabolism. For example, calcium has been postulated to reduce body weight by modulating vitamin D concentrations in plasma and therefore attenuating intracellular effects of calcium in activating genes involved in fatty acid synthesis and reducing those involved in lipolysis.
Peptides present in milk have been associated with the inhibition of the angiotensin-converting enzyme and therefore with reductions in blood pressure. Branched chain amino acids may increase post-prandial insulin secretion and regulate plasma glucose levels, and leucine, an abundant amino acid in milk, may be responsible for decreased plasma glucose through modulation of mTOR.
Therefore, through different proposed mechanisms, dairy nutrients may target all the components of metabolic syndrome. Additionally, including about 3 servings of dairy in the diet per day only requires slight dietary modifications, making it an easy lifestyle change to maintain.