While you may not have heard of Syndrome X, it’s likely you’ve heard of or maybe even experienced its symptoms. Dr. Gerald Reaven, an endocrinologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, coined the term Syndrome X (which is also called Metabolic Syndrome) to describe a cluster of symptoms that affect about 20 to 25 percent of men and women in the United States today. These numbers may grow rapidly, however, unless immediate dietary and lifestyle changes are made in American society. From mild to severe, the collection of symptoms may be all or most of the following:
- High levels of cholesterol in the blood
- Insulin resistance, or abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood
- High glucose levels
- Sugar intolerance
- Low HDL (“good” cholesterol)
- High triglycerides (components of fat found in the blood)
- High blood pressure
- Obesity around the middle of the body
- Overstimulation of testosterone
- Adult acne
- Heart disease, coronary artery disease
- Elevated testosterone levels
In women, symptoms also include:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Hirsutism (increased hair growth)
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Anovulatory (non-ovulating) menstrual cycles
Syndrome X and Insulin Resistance
Syndrome X is strongly associated with insulin resistance. The western diet, filled with processed foods that have little resemblance to nutrition and with refined sugars and carbohydrates that are immediately converted to sugar on ingestion, is creating insulin resistance women, men, and even children.
A good way to understand insulin resistance is to realize that every cell in the body needs glucose for energy. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that drives glucose into the cells. Years of ingesting high-refined-carbohydrate foods, such as white bread and pasta, white rice, sugar, soda, alcohol, processed foods, and caffeine leads to too much glucose in the body. The cells are saturated with glucose, and the number of receptor sites available for insulin is decreased. Insulin’s job is to carry the glucose from a recent meal and put it into cells and out of the bloodstream. If the cells are unreceptive, the pancreas will react by secreting even more insulin in an attempt to get the cells to respond and allow glucose to enter them.
At this point, insulin begins dumping glucose into the fat cells. (The fat cells around the midsection of the body seem to be most receptive to this process, creating the dreaded fat in the midsection.) Once these cells are filled, Insulin can only remain in the bloodstream, creating Type II Diabetes. Although this process takes years to develop in most people, it is occurring in younger and younger women and men in western society.
If you suspect you or a loved one has Syndrome X, you should know that it is reversable. The primary treatment for Syndrome X is exercise and weight loss if necessary (not everyone is overweight with this disorder) and follow a diet without junk food, processed food, pesticides, sugars, refined flours, caffeine, and high-glycemic fruits and vegetables. Adding hormone-free proteins with every meal and eating healthy fats such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, some dairy foods (including butter), and goat cheese is essential.
Secondly, and just as vital, is restoring health to the adrenal glands. This can be done through a comprehensive treatment program with herbal supplements and stress-lowering activities such as yoga and meditation.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own health professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. You should read carefully all product packaging. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. As always, results will vary, even when clinical tests have displayed a large success rate.