Syndrome X

I felt impressed to further our discussion on metabolism, which we touched on in my article on the thyroid. Let’s talk about how we metabolize our carbs and more specifically insulin.

Syndrome X, Insulin Resistance, and Metabolic Syndrome are disorders which are receiving a lot of press lately. These disorders are being found to be at the core of many of chronic conditions today. One article I read stated that 10-20% of Americans are affected by some aspect of this cluster of imbalances, but personally I feel that the figure is much, much higher. These syndromes cause one to be predisposed to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, and prostate disorders. Some symptoms which may indicate that these imbalances exist include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high levels of triglyceride, low levels of “good” cholesterol, and high levels of either blood sugar or insulin.

Plant on log
Poor diet is one of the biggest contributing factors to these metabolic disorders. When we eat, the glucose level raises in our blood. This is turn signals the pancreas to release insulin which helps blood sugar enter the cells. This works wonderfully if a person is eating a well balanced diet consisting of whole foods. But the average American today eats too many refined foods, especially those that fall in the "white food” category. Many people think that the healthy breads that can be purchased in the grocery store do not fall into this category, but they do. These, along with most crackers, white sugar, white rice, cookies, candies, sweet drinks, ice cream, etcetera. are a bigger part of most people's diet than they probably realize. These white refined products turn into sugar immediately as you chew and swallow them. The body then needs to release a large amount of insulin to help metabolize this sudden surge in sugar. A person with low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, will have a sharp blood sugar spike followed by a crash. A person with high blood sugar will have their blood sugar remain high as the body is not able to produce enough insulin to balance out the blood sugar. Over time the body just gets worn out. After years of managing the high insulin levels, the body becomes resistant to the insulin. When a person has insulin resistance, the body doesn't respond to insulin and the blood sugar cannot get into the cells. As a result, the body produces more and more insulin. Blood sugar and insulin remain elevated. The body will then begin to store sugar in the fat cells which in turn congest the liver and cause something called fatty liver. This is a very common disorder these days, and one that gets easily ignored. The major contributor to a fatty liver is high fructose corn syrup (check your labels). High fructose corn syrup can only be processed in the liver and as the liver gets more and more fatty, the triglyceride levels climb as well as the risk for heart disease. Vegetarians can be especially at risk, due to the potentially high carbohydrate, low protein diet that often occurs. Don't think I am knocking vegetarianism; I was raised a vegetarian. But there needs to be a solid understanding of nutrition and proper protein consumption in order for a vegetarian diet to be healthy.

I won't spend too much time on the possible indicators of Syndrome X, they are easily found on the internet and most are known. They include, fasting high blood sugar, high blood pressure, decreased HDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and excessive weight, especially around the waist line. To this I will personally add the person who has had large fluctuations in their weight.

Pink flowers
So what can one do? The first and most important step towards balancing out this cluster of symptoms is to eat a healthy diet, consisting of whole, unrefined foods, foods with lots of colors (for their antioxidant properties), and limiting the amounts of sugars and white products in your diet. Also make sure you are eating an adequate amount of protein throughout your day, especially between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

The second thing is exercise. There are many reports confirming that beginning an exercise program (checking with your doctor, if needed) will have significant results in actually re-balancing the bodies ability to use insulin properly.

These two steps alone should bring about significant results, and for some at the early stages, no other things may be needed.

This subject is a large subject to cover in one short article. If you feel that you want to improve your health in this area, feel free to give us a call. We would be glad to discuss with you any of the above areas that may be specific to your needs.


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