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Syndrome X
Your Syndrome X Eating Plan
By Dr. Floyd Taub, M.D.
Oct 19, 2005, 10:33

Syndrome X is a fairly new discovery in medicine. So new, in fact, that we haven’t quite settled on what to call it!  You may have read things about Syndrome X, Insulin Resistance Syndrome, or Metabolic Syndrome. All of these terms refer to the same thing. Syndrome X is a collection of risk factors that tend to cluster together.  These factors include:

 

  • high cholesterol
  • high triglycerides
  • high blood pressure
  • increased abdominal fat (a waist measurement of more than 40” if you are a man, or more than 35” if you are woman)
  • insulin resistance 

If you have three or more of these risk factors, you may have Syndrome X.  This means you  may have a substantially increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

 

Syndrome X is not a rare thing.  Researchers now estimate that up to 70 million Americans already have Syndrome X, and the number is growing by leaps and bounds every year.  In this report, I want to focus specifically on insulin resistance and what you can do to avoid this dangerous risk factor  Avoiding insulin resistance is the among most effective ways to avoid Syndrome X because it is something you can do without drugs or other dangerous interventions.

 

First, let me quickly explain what insulin resistance is and why it has come to be such a common problem.  Then, I’ll outline some simple steps you can take to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

 

 

How insulin works in your body

 

Insulin is a hormone produced in your pancreas. Its primary job is to regulate your blood sugar levels, by clearing glucose (sugar) out of your blood and into your cells.  Glucose is the fuel for all cellular metabolism: it provides the energy for all of the work your body does.

 

The glucose in your blood is like the gas that is still in the pumps at the gas station. In order to drive your car, you have to pump that gas into your car’s gas tank, so that it can fuel the car’s engine. Likewise, in order to use glucose for energy, you first have to move it from your bloodstream into your individual cells, where it can be burned for energy. And that’s exactly what insulin does--it pumps glucose from your blood into your cells. 

 

Whenever your brain senses a rise in blood sugar (after meals, for example) it sends a signal to your pancreas to release more insulin.  The insulin pumps the glucose into the cells.   When your blood sugar returns to normal your brain sends a signal to the pancreas to stop producing insulin. 

 

How it goes wrong 

 

All foods create a rise in blood sugar as they are digested. Some foods create a sudden, large rise in blood sugar, while others create a smaller more gradual rise. The foods and beverages that we eat in this country tend to be highly processed and refined. These foods cause a very sharp increase in blood sugar, which in turn triggers a large surge of insulin from the pancreas. 

 

When your diet includes large amounts of processed, refined foods (including snack foods, breads, cookies, crackers, soft drinks, and fast food), your pancreas produces a lot of insulin in an effort to control your blood sugar.  After a while, though, your cells start to get numb to the effects of insulin. To go back to our gas station analogy, it’s as if the insulin can no longer get the cap off the cellular gas tank and can no longer pump glucose into the cells. This is what we call insulin resistance.

 

Insulin resistance is a bad situation.  As your cells become more and more resistant to the effects of insulin your blood sugar creeps higher and higher. And because your blood sugar stays high, your brain continues to signal the pancreas to produce more insulin, leading to chronically high insulin levels. There’s a reason that insulin and glucose levels are normally tightly regulated by the brain. It is harmful to have high levels of either of these chemicals circulating in your blood for more than a short time.

 

Because the glucose is not being cleared out of the blood stream, your cells are also not getting the energy they need to function correctly. And after a while, your pancreas may become so exhausted that it is no longer able to produce any insulin at all: in other words, full-blown diabetes! Not only does insulin resistance place you at risk for diabetes, it also increases your risk of heart attacks, stroke, dementia, nerve pain, vision problems…and death.

 

Why are we seeing an epidemic of insulin resistance and Syndrome X?

 

As you can see, diet is a primary factor in the development of insulin resistance.  Foods and beverages that are high in sugar, white flour, and simple carbohydrates (in other words, the Standard American Diet) all trigger sharp increases in blood sugar. Eating these foods all the time can lead to insulin resistance.  Today’s hectic meal-on-the-run lifestyle is definitely working against us.  Hamburgers, milkshakes, and pizza are easier to eat on the go than salads and fresh vegetables.  

 

The fact that we get too little exercise doesn’t help either. Exercise helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels…making our cells more sensitive to insulin and keeping our blood sugar steady.  Too many processed foods and too little exercise are the primary reason that we are seeing an epidemic of insulin resistance and Syndrome X.

 

Eating a healthy diet is not just about watching your waistline or keeping your heart healthy …it’s also the single most powerful step you can take to avoid Syndrome X.

 

Eat to beat insulin resistance

 

Reducing your risk of insulin resistance can be as simple as making a few key changes in your eating habits.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the glycemic index?  This is a rating system that measures how different foods affect your blood sugar.[1] Some enlightened manufacturers have started to add the Glycemic Index rating to the Nutrition Facts on the label. When food shopping, I suggest you begin looking out for this.  Carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index (GI) trigger a bigger rise in blood sugar.  Carbohydrate foods with a lower GI create a lower, slower rise in blood sugar.

 

When you eat more low GI carbs and fewer high GI carbs, you reduce your risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, and other complications.  Eating low on the Glycemic Index has other benefits as well. Low GI foods tend to keep you satisfied longer. [2]  You tend to eat less, which can promote easy, healthy weight loss. You’ll also enjoy steady energy levels throughout the day.   

           

High glycemic carbohydrates (70 or higher)

Medium glycemic carbohydrates

(55 to 70)

Low glycemic carbohydrates

(55 or lower)

Sweetened breakfast cereals

White bread

Bagel

Pastries and baked goods

Potatoes

Parsnips

Dates

Watermelon

Gatorade

Soda (non-diet)

Corn chips

Pretzels

White sugar

Jams and Jellies

Candy

Shredded wheat

White and brown rice

Pita bread

Whole grain bread

pumpernickel bread

Beets

Yams

Sweet potatoes

Canned beans

Corn

Peas

Bananas

Cantaloupe

Kiwi

Mango

Pineapple

Raisins

Fruit Juice

Ice cream

Popcorn

Honey

Dark chocolate

Bran cereal

Oatmeal

Bulgar wheat

Converted rice

Pasta

Non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, green beans, etc.)

Lentils

Kidney beans

Apples

Oranges

Pears

Peaches

Grapefruit

Milk

Low-fat yogurt

Vegetable juice

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding and working with the glycemic index

 

As a general rule, foods that contain a lot of sugar or refined starches have a high glycemic index. They create a quick rise in blood sugar. Foods that contain more fiber, protein and fat have a lower glycemic index. They are digested more slowly and create a slower, more sustained release of energy.  
 

For example, the highly refined flour in white bread is just like pure sugar to your body. It has a very high glycemic index. Whole grain bread, which contains more fiber, is digested more slowly and has a lower glycemic index.  A piece of whole grain bread spread with peanut butter (containing healthy fats and protein) is digested even more slowly and has an even lower glycemic index.

 

The following table shows a few key tricks that will help shift your diet away from high glycemic carbohydrates, which can promote insulin resistance. Instead, they are replaced with lower glycemic carbohydrates that help you avoid insulin resistance and Syndrome X.

 

Instead of this:

choose this:

fruit juice

whole fruits, vegetable juice

soda

sparkling water, vegetable juice

white bread

whole grain bread

starchy vegetables

green vegetables

potatoes

sweet potatoes

corn flakes, rice krispies

Bran flakes, oatmeal

jelly

honey

 

Another good strategy is to combine high glycemic foods with low glycemic foods, which will helps to regulate blood sugar. Foods that contain fat, protein and/or fiber help to slow the absorption of sugar in the high glycemic foods. This helps to even out the blood sugar/insulin response.

 

 

When you eat these foods:

Combine them with these foods:

fruit, bread, sweets, baked goods, pasta, potatoes

nuts, nut butters, lean meats, lowfat dairy products, olive oil, avocado

 

 

More fat as part of a healthy diet

 

Many people are confused about the role of dietary fats in health.  For years, the government and the American Heart Association have been telling us that a low-fat diet is the healthiest diet. But it’s not quite that simple.  A low-fat diet may have a negative effect on blood sugar and can even contribute to insulin resistance![3]

 

In general, meals that contain fat are digested more slowly than low-fat meals and have a milder effect on blood sugar levels. In fact, eating more fat has been shown to be an effective strategy for those with or at risk of Syndrome X.[4]  But before you order those super-sized French fries, I want to make an additional distinction between healthy fats and unhealthy fats.

 

In 1999, the Lyons Diet Health Study studied the effects of dietary fat in heart attack survivors. Half the study group ate a traditional low-fat diet, while the other ate the so-called “Mediterranean” diet, which contains almost 40% fat, mostly in the form of olive oil. The researchers were stunned to see that the group eating more fat were only 1/3 as likely to have a second heart attack as the group eating the low-fat diet.[5]  Researchers have concluded that how much fat you eat is not nearly as important as what kind of fat you eat.

 

A high intake of saturated fats and trans fatty acids has been linked with increased cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease, and many forms of cancer. But monounsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats have been shown to have the opposite effects. These fats have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. [6],[7] 

 

I hereby authorize you to eat more fat--guilt-free!--as long as you choose mostly unsaturated fats. 

The following table shows you which are which.

 

Saturated fats (AVOID)

Trans fats (AVOID)

Unsaturated fats (ENJOY)

fatty cuts of meat

deep fried foods

fatty fish (salmon, tuna)

butter, cream

olive oil, canola oil

cheese

hydrogenated oils (check labels on processed foods)

nuts and seeds

bacon

avocado

 

 

Targeted nutrition can support healthy blood sugar levels

 

In addition to changing your diet, you may also want to consider nutritional supplements that help normalize your body’s use of sugar and insulin. I discuss nutritional supplements in detail in my report Overcome Insulin Resistance Now!  Here is a brief summary.

 

Cinnamon extract.  Certain phenolic polymers from cinnamon can improve glucose metabolism roughly 20 fold.[8] In a recent clinical study of people with type II diabetes, taking large amounts of cinnamon for 40 days led to significant reductions in blood sugar levels.  The subjects also had meaningful reductions in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.[9]

Alpha lipoic acid

Alpha lipoic acid activates the cell’s insulin receptors, making the cell more sensitive to the effects of insulin.[10]  It is a critical nutrient for anyone at risk of insulin resistance.

Chromium

Chromium also activates insulin receptors and helps to reduce elevated blood sugar levels.[11] It also helps to normalize insulin production and lower the risk of Syndrome X. 

Vanadium

Vanadium does not directly lower blood sugar, but it enhances the natural effects of insulin[12]--which is exactly what you need if you are at risk of insulin resistance. In addition, vanadium works to boost the beneficial effects of chromium.

Biotin.   One of the B vitamins, biotin, specifically helps normalize blood sugar[13] and to improve the health of the pancreas.  It has even been studied for its ability to prevent the onset of diabetes. 

 

All of these nutrients (along with other important nutrients co-factors) are found in a Metorin X, a formula I highly recommend to anyone concerned about insulin resistance

 

 

Make today an Anti-X day

 

Once you get the hang of it, choosing foods and meals that reduce your risk of Syndrome X is a snap. But just to get you started, I’ve included a few meal ideas.

 

Anti-X Breakfasts

 

Grapefruit

Whole grain toast with honey

2 eggs, any way

 

 

Slow cooked oatmeal with apple and walnuts

Low-fat milk

Cantaloupe

 

 

Anti-X Lunches

 

Turkey and spinach rollup

Minestrone soup

Pears with blue cheese

 

Chef’s salad with ham and cheese

Pumpernickel roll

Low-fat fruit yogurt

 

Anti-X Dinners

 

Roast chicken

Steamed Broccoli

Corn

Low-fat ice cream

 

Grilled steak with mushrooms

Baked sweet potatoes

Spinach salad with almonds

Fruit salad drizzled with dark chocolate sauce

 

 

Anti-X Snacks

 

Apple slices with peanut butter

 

Trail mix

Low-fat popcorn sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese

 

Carrots and hummus

 

Click here to learn about a breakthrough discovery in the battle against Syndrome-X.

 

To your health!

 

 

 References:

 

1. Foster-Powell. K. Brand-Miller, J. et al. International table of glycemic index and glycemic index load values: 2002. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002; 76:5-56.

 

2. Holt S., Brand J. et al. Relationship of Satiety to post-prandial glycemic, insulin, and cholecystokinin responses. Appetite 1992; 18:129-41

 

3. Vines, Gail. Sweet but deadly. New Scientist 2001; 171:2306:26.

 
4. Reaven GM. The insulin resistance syndrome: definition and dietary approaches to treatment. Annu Rev Nutr. 2005;25:391-406. 
 
5. de Lorgeril M, Salen P, Martin JL, Monjaud I, Delaye J, Mamelle N. Mediterranean diet, traditional risk factors, and the rate of cardiovascular complications after myocardial infarction: final report of the Lyon Diet Heart Study. Circulation. 1999 Feb 16;99(6):779-85. 
 
6. Khor GL. Dietary fat quality: a nutritional epidemiologist's view. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004 Aug;13(Suppl):S22. 
 
7. Lichtenstein AH. Dietary fat and cardiovascular disease risk: quantity or quality? J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2003 Mar;12(2):109-14. 
 

8. Anderson RA, Broadhurst CL, Polansky MM et al. Isolation and characterization of polyphenol type-A polymers from cinnamon with insulin-like biological activity. J Agric Food Chem  2004 Jan 14;52(1):65-70.

 

9. Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM et al. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care  2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8.

 

10. Jacob S, Ruus P, Hermann R et al. Oral administration of RAC-alpha-lipoic acid modulates insulin sensitivity in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus: a placebo-controlled pilot trial. Free Radic Biol Med  1999 Aug;27(3-4):309-14.

 

11. Ryan GJ, Wanko NS, Redman AR et al. Chromium as adjunctive treatment for type 2 diabetes. Ann Pharmacother  2003 Jun;37(6):876-85.

 

12. Cam MC, Brownsey RW, McNeill JH. Mechanisms of vanadium action: insulin-mimetic or insulin-enhancing agent? Can J Physiol Pharmacol  2000 Oct;78(10):829-47.

 

13. Maebashi M. Makino Y. Furukawa Y. Therapeutic evaluation of the effect of biotin on hyperglycemia in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.  J Clin Biochem Nutr  1993;14 211-218



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