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Also known as Metabolic Syndrome, Insulin Resistance or Glucose Intolerance, Syndrome X is not a disease per se, but a combination of risk factors that can lead to more serious conditions in humans and their pets.




by Robert Allison


Researchers estimate that this condition afflicts over 60 million Americans, including one in four over age 35. Syndrome X has been implicated as a causal factor in a host of debilitating conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and various forms of cancer.


Symptoms of Syndrome X

Syndrome X is a serious health condition characterized by the following clinical symptoms:

  • Abdominal obesity

  • Fasting triglycerides of 150 mg/ml or higher

  • Low HDL and high LDL cholesterol levels

  • High blood pressure

  • Diminished glucose tolerance

The presence of any three of the above point to a probability of Syndrome X or the likelihood of it developing. Some common warning signs include feeling sluggish after meals, a craving for sweets, constant fatigue and stubborn weight gain.


Syndrome X and Aging

Researchers have discovered that Syndrome X can significantly accelerate the aging process. High levels of glucose and insulin create a virtual firestorm of free radicals, causing massive oxidative stress, which has been identified as a key factor in the aging process.


And according to Dr. Michael Lam, an anti-aging expert, high glucose levels can result in advanced glycosylation end products {AGEs), which are associated with age-related diseases. Dr. Lam cites the work of biologist Anthony Cerami, who discovered that chronically high blood glucose levels were the main trigger in the chemical process that creates AGEs.


In a process known as carmelization or a browning reaction, AGEs form from the cross-linking of sugar and protein molecules. AGEs cause extensive damage to the body-reducing the flexibility and permeability of tissues and cells, damaging cell membranes, stiffening connective tissue and hardening of arteries. The cross-linking also impairs cellular communication and repair.


Syndrome X and Conventional Medicine

Syndrome X appeared on the nation's health consciousness radar during the late 90's, and big medicine wasted no time in trying to capitalize on growing public concerns. While there is no specific prescription drug for Syndrome X, pharmaceutical companies have pushed a host of other drugs, including weight control products, statins (cholesterol) and high blood pressure medications, as solutions to Syndrome x.


That conventional medicine would advocate addressing Syndrome X with a host of expensive prescription drugs is hardly surprising. But there is significant research showing that Syndrome X is most effectively controlled by a combination of diet and exercise. In fact, Dr. Lam and many other researchers believe that Metabolic Syndrome is usually totally reversible without drugs.


Syndrome X and Diet

Syndrome X is primarily a nutritionally-based condition, often associated with over-consumption of refined carbohydrates. To reverse Syndrome X or prevent it from occurring, most researchers recommend a diet rich in fibrous vegetables, quality proteins and healthy fats. And while small amounts of whole grains are acceptable, processed grain products and starchy vegetables should be avoided.


But according to science journalist Gail Vines, when and how often you eat may be as important as what you eat. Vines cites research showing that a "grazing" eating pattern, involving frequent snacking, can increase the likelihood and severity of Syndrome X by continually flooding the bloodstream with insulin. Vines refers to recommendations by Victor Zammit, M.D., to allow a good 4-5 hours between meals and cutting out snacks.  That includes training treats!


Syndrome X and Exercise

Exercise is vital in combating Syndrome X. In fact, some researchers believe it is almost as significant as diet in reducing the risk factors associated with the condition. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study showing that regular exercise reduced abdominal obesity, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increased lean body mass. Another study at Duke University showed that exercising 3-4 times per week for at least 30 minutes will improve insulin sensitivity, lower triglycerides and raise HDL Cholesterol -all factors associated with Syndrome X. 


The message here is get out and play ball, fetch, or just jog with your dog.  It will help protect your health and your dog's health.


Nutritional Supplements for Syndrome X

Although most researchers believe that diet and exercise should be the foundation of any Syndrome X program, there are proven natural solutions to support you.


Along with alphalipoic acid and chromium, there are a number of natural remedies and nutritional supplements that reduce the impact of Syndrome X risk factors. For example, cinnamon is revered for its ability to regulate sugar metabolism and promote the healthy functioning of insulin and other glucose regulating factors in the body.


Green tea has also demonstrated dynamic anti-Syndrome X properties. A study by researchers at the University of Chicago found that green tea catechins -particularly epigallocatechin (EGCG) -reduce body weight, lower insulin and glucose levels, while reducing cholesterol and triglycerides.


Other popular herbs for promoting healthy blood sugar metabolism include:


Bitter Melon -a plant commonly used medicinally in tropical regions throughout the world. It is historically used to treat a variety of conditions, but researchers have recently discovered its ability to lessen the risk factors associated with Syndrome X.


Fenugreek -A small seed plant native to India and southern Europe, it promotes healthy glucose levels by encouraging healthy insulin secretion by the pancreas. Fenugreek also supports healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and offers antioxidant protection.


High Fructose Corn Syrup

Many experts believe that the widespread use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is playing a major role in our burgeoning Syndrome X epidemic. Researchers from the Department of Nutrition at the University of California, Davis and others have proposed the theory that fructose in the form of HFCS may be primarily responsible for the epidemic of Syndrome X risk factors .


HFCS is an inexpensive sweetener manufactured by adding enzymes to corn syrup to convert glucose into fructose, a sweeter form of sugar. Because it is cheaper than cane sugar, the use of HFCS increased ten fold from 1975 to 1990. Although often associated with soft drinks, HFCS is found in many processed foods, including juices, jams and condiments like ketchup.



Due to over-consumption of refined carbohydrates, many experts believe we are on the verge of an epidemic of Syndrome X related illnesses. But the good news is that Syndrome X can usually be prevented or reversed through a combination of diet, exercise and natural supplementation.



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