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November 12, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, November 12, 2004

Mastering your metabolism Mastering your metabolism (November 12, 2004)

Local doctors address precursor to diabetes, heart disease

By Diana Reynolds Roome

"Do you think the first pilgrims had mashed potatoes for their Thanksgiving dinner?" asked Dr. Jerry Manoukian, who regularly advises his patients about how to eat well to stay well.

"Concentrated carbs can get you into trouble, and they may be found in cranberry sauce, fruit juices and mashed potatoes. Instead, brown rice is a reasonable choice and may be blended with wild rice. Mashed potatoes are a waste of time."

Sacrilegious though this may seem to some, Manoukian would like to make such thinking commonplace. He and his wife, Dr. Mariam Manoukian, share a medical practice and live in Mountain View, and they want to turn "metabolic syndrome" into household words as common as "flu shot" or "low fat."

Too many people who develop diabetes might have avoided it if they had known they were at risk for metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance syndrome, say the Manoukians.

About 6 percent of the population in the U.S. have diabetes, a condition affecting growing numbers of children and adults that increase the risk for other serious conditions such as heart disease and stroke. What is not as well-known is that as many as 25 percent have the genetic constitution that predisposes them to metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome makes it harder to turn sugar into energy. It can cause a number of other problems including elevated blood pressure and weight gain, especially in the abdomen, and may lead to diabetes and heart disease.

Maureen Rugala, a 65-year-old Mountain View patient of Jerry Manoukian, is trying to avoid getting diabetes and heart disease.

"I was gaining weight. I was having a blood-pressure problem," she said. "I hadn't heard of metabolic syndrome before. When [Dr. Manoukian] talked about it, it all started to fall into place."

Rugala changed her diet based on Manoukian's recommendation. In three months, she lost 14 pounds, and her blood sugar level is back to normal.

A description of metabolic syndrome as well as diet suggestions are laid out in the the Manoukians' recently published book, "Metabolic Syndrome Survival Guide."

The Manoukians' publication is not another diet book, though it does offer many suggestions for what to eat to avoid or even reverse metabolic syndrome. It clearly explains how food is absorbed and used in the body, for better or worse. It also shows why metabolic syndrome has greatly increased as a result of modern high-carbohydrate, high-sugar foods, especially those hidden in highly processed convenience foods.

Even though he already has diabetes, Arthur Thorp, 74, has taken Mariam Manoukian's advice to heart to positive results. With his blood sugar level "out of control," he opted to try out the plan described in his doctor's book rather than take insulin shots.

"It took a couple times to read it through and realize they were talking to me, Fatty," said Thorp, a Santa Clara resident.

In three months, his weight dropped from 189 to 177, and he may evenutally need to take less diabetes medicine.

"Ideally our readers are everyone, but especially anyone with a family history of heart disease or diabetes," said Mariam Manoukian, an endocrinologist. "A lot of things are reversible, and individuals can do so much."

E-mail Diana Reynolds Roome at [email protected]

"Metabolic Syndrome Survival Guide" by Mariam Manoukian and Jerry Manoukian is available at Books Inc. and on The Manoukian Medical Group is located at 2500 Hospital Drive, Building 4 in Mountain View and can be reached at 940-1006.

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