Syndrome X! Are You At Risk?

I get asked pretty frequently about Syndrome X. You may recently have heard in the news about a sinister-sounding condition called Syndrome X. No, this isn't a newly discovered disease, but rather a new term for a cluster of conditions that when occurring together, may indicate a predisposition to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

An estimated 25 to 50 percent of all American adults suffer from poor glucose metabolism, leaving them feeling tired, sluggish and at risk for major health problems. More than ever before, doctors and scientists are coming to realize that many potentially life-threatening health problems may be linked to insulin resistance. In fact, this serious health condition was given the name Syndrome X in 1988.

People with Syndrome X typically have these characteristics: central obesity, impaired glucose metabolism, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure, all believed to be secondary to insulin resistance.

What is happening in your body when you have insulin resistance? Insulin is a natural hormone secreted by the pancreas which helps the body use glucose. It is insulin's job as a "carrier" to bind to specific insulin-receptors on body cells, and help transport glucose into the cell to be utilized for energy. In many cases, muscle cells are the ones most in need of glucose, since muscle movements caused by physical activity frequently deplete the muscles' energy supply.

Nearly all cells in the body have specific insulin receptors on their surface and when insulin binds to these receptors, it promotes glucose entry and utilization. For example, when carbohydrates are ingested they are broken down to simple sugars, which elevate the glucose level in the bloodstream. In response to this, the pancreas releases insulin which transports glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells, thereby giving cells the energy they need while regulating blood glucose levels within a healthy range.

If you are insulin-resistant, however, the insulin is unable to bind to the insulin receptors on the cells, so the cells are left without the glucose they need. Your body may then try to compensate by releasing more insulin. But the extra insulin still cannot bind to the cells, which causes high levels of insulin to circulate unused in the body. If you have too much insulin, you are likely to experience an energy crash, and your cells quickly learn to ignore the hormone altogether, causing the condition of insulin-resistance.

High insulin levels can also be dangerous because they can lead to serious health problems, and since insulin increases the amount of the stress hormone corsitol in the body, it can accelerate other aging-related health concerns.

So, what should you do if you suspect you have Syndrome X? Because these conditions occur in a cluster, the steps you take to bring one of the conditions into a healthy range will likely improve the others. For example, if you're overweight, simply losing up to 10 or 15 percent of your current body weight can bring blood pressure down and increase your cells' sensitivity to insulin. Exercise is an important component of weight loss. It also raises HDL blood levels, even without weight loss.

The eDiets plan is just the diet you need. It can help you lose weight. Exercise is also important. The type of exercise recommended for weight loss and maintenance is aerobic activity. Aerobic exercise increases the body's need for oxygen because large groups of muscles which demand more oxygen are used. The heart must beat faster to furnish this oxygen. The heart's muscle tone and pumping action are improved and metabolism speeds up. Finally, if you are feeling poorly you should always consult your doctor.