Chances are, if you’re told by your health care practitioner that you have Metabolic Syndrome X, you might think you have a condition that he or she couldn’t identify very well. Thus, the mysterious label of “Syndrome X” was slapped on your symptoms. The reality is that Metabolic Syndrome X – sometimes shortened to Metabolic Syndrome – is a very prevalent and deadly conglomeration of health concerns and is called the most common cause of premature death and disability in the Western World. In fact, according to a national health survey, more than 1 in 5 Americans has metabolic syndrome. The number of people with metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting more than 40% of people in their 60s and 70s. With a distinction such as this, this syndrome deserves some closer inspection.
More than 1 in 5 Americans has metabolic syndrome. The number of people with metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting more than 40% of people in the 60s and 70s.
What is Metabolic Syndrome X?
Metabolic Syndrome X is a cluster of health concerns that are, as the name indicates, linked to the body’s metabolism and are also related to a phenomenon known as insulin resistance. It has also been called syndrome X and insulin resistance syndrome. The prominent conditions associated with syndrome X are obesity, hypertension, elevated blood cholesterol levels, and high levels of and resistance to insulin. The presence of one or more of these indicators increases one’s chances of developing such serious ailments as coronary disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease.
The prevalence of this deadly syndrome is increasing at alarming rates here in the United States and around the world. It was estimated in 2002 that approximately 47 million Americans suffered from syndrome X. Current estimates place the number at up to 70 million. Slightly more women than men are affected by the syndrome, and there is a definite imparity between the races. Mexican Americans have the greatest incidence of syndrome X, followed by Asian Americans, Caucasian Americans, and African Americans. Age is also a factor. Less than 10% of individuals in their twenties have metabolic syndrome X, but the number shoots up to about 40% for those in their sixties. However, one study indicates that approximately one in eight school-aged children may have three or more of the primary indicators of the syndrome. That is a frightening statistic.
There is some good news amidst this bleak picture: Metabolic Syndrome X and its associated conditions can be dramatically reduced by aggressive lifestyle changes such as proper diet and exercise. The trick is to get the average American to recognize the need for such changes and then have the discipline to commit to them. All the more reason to educate our children about living a healthy lifestyle.
How Do I Know if I Have Metabolic Syndrome X?
The diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome x can differ slightly depending on the medical experts consulted. A standard, accepted definition was established by the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). Official diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome necessitates three or more of the following criteria be found:
- Waist circumference of greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. This is generally known as abdominal obesity, and often manifests itself as an “apple-shaped” figure, versus a preferred “pear-shaped” figure.
- Fasting Blood Triglyceride levels > 150 mg/dL. Triglycerides are one of the fats found in the blood.
- Blood HDL: Men: < 40 mg/dL. Women: < 50 mg/dL. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is considered the “good” cholesterol.
- Blood pressure >= 130/85 mmHg.
- Fasting glucose >= 100 mg/dL (recently changed from >= 110 mg/dL to reflect the revised American Diabetes Association criterion for impaired fasting glucose).
Other risk factors that can increase one’s chances of developing Metabolic Syndrome X include:
- Obesity, as measured by the body mass index (BMI). This index is a factor of the percentage of body fat versus your height and weight. Having a BMI of 25 or greater is considered a risk factor for Metabolic Syndrome X.
- Diabetes: Risk for the syndrome is increased if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, and/or if a woman has had gestational diabetes, which is a form of the illness associated with pregnancy.
- Other diseases: Certain other conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome can also contribute to increased risk for syndrome X. Polycystic ovary syndrome is also a metabolic problem affecting the hormones and reproductive system of females.
What are the Complications of Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic Syndrome complications are often serious and long-term (chronic). They include:
- hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- heart attack
- kidney disease
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- peripheral artery disease
- cardiovascular disease
If diabetes develops, you may be at risk for additional health issues, including:
- eye damage (retinopathy)
- nerve damage (neuropathy)
- kidney disease
- amputation of limbs
What are the Causes of Metabolic Syndrome X?
Much research has been done on this condition, and while there is still a lot that is not completely understood, the evidence seems to point towards insulin resistance as the foundational cause of Metabolic Syndrome. Resistance to insulin is a term that describes an abnormal way the body handles glucose and insulin. When operating properly, food is broken down in the digestive system into a form of sugar called glucose. The bloodstream transports glucose to the various organs of the body, and it enters the cells to be used as fuel with the help of a hormone called insulin. When you are insulin resistant, your cells do not react to insulin the way they are designed to, and thus glucose cannot effectively enter the cells. In response, the body increases the output of insulin, thinking that the problem is insufficient amounts of insulin. The result is elevated levels of both insulin and glucose in the blood. This triggers, among other things, elevated triglyceride levels and kidney malfunction resulting in hypertension (high blood pressure). It is not known for certain what causes resistance to insulin—genetic and environmental factors are suspect—but we do know that obesity and an inactive lifestyle are major contributors.
The various components of Metabolic Syndrome X (obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance) have an exponential effect on your health. In other words, if you have one of these factors, you are more likely to have or develop others, and the more you have, the greater the health risk. One study indicated that men who have three of the components have twice the risk for a heart attack and three times the risk for coronary disease as men with none of the factors present.
The good news is that if you take steps to make the lifestyle changes to reduce one of these components, it will also positively affect the others.
What are Natural Suggestions that Help or Prevent Metabolic Syndrome X?
As destructive as Metabolic Syndrome is, in the vast majority of cases it is almost completely treatable and/or preventable through lifestyle changes. The two most common culprits that cause this syndrome and many other maladies of the modern industrialized world are the Standard American Diet (SAD) and a sedentary lifestyle characterized by a lack of physical exercise. Other than certain hereditary factors that might predispose some people to such things as hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular disease, aggressive changes in the way we eat and live could make Metabolic Syndrome a relic of the past.
These steps are not difficult or complicated to take, but they do require a good measure of desire, discipline and determination.
Cleansing and Detoxification.
The importance of full body cleansing to rid the body of toxins and impacted fecal matter cannot be overstated and is hands down one of the best decisions you can make regarding your health. While there are many things you can do to improve your health, if you don’t first clean house and make it possible for your body to live and function in a clean environment, chances are you will not reap the total benefits from otherwise good health choices. Perform a starter colon and digestive tract cleanse first. Then move on to a liver and gallbladder cleanse (for those who have never cleansed before, I suggest doing 3-4 back to back liver and gallbladder cleanses with at least five to seven days in between each one) and then perform a harmful organism cleanse.
Apply common sense in regards to what you eat. Don’t fall for the latest fad diet even if the natural health gurus promote them. Maintaining a stable body weight is not some sort of magical foods. Ignore those who promise “magical” weight loss, vilifies “forbidden foods,” and promotes excluding certain food “types” based on the latest round of misunderstood and misinterpreted science. Just don’t fall for it. A diet high in organic fresh fruits and vegetables along with as much dietary fiber you can get is the direction you want to be going. Dietary fiber has a multitude of healthful effects, one of which is to naturally lower insulin levels. Eliminate junk food, pre-packaged foods, grocery store cow’s milk, and high fat red meats. If you consume meat, make sure it is grass-fed and grass-finished. Instead of using plain old table salt this is stripped of minerals, begin using Himalayan Crystal Salt which is rich in minerals.
Studies show that diets that emphasize highlight foods, such as the Mediterranean diet, help preserve lean body mass while also improving certain metabolic markers like insulin, cholesterol, fibrinogen, and uric acid. Other studies indicate that eating Mediterranean-type diets show a powerful reduction in cholesterol levels, increased emotional and physical well-being, and a tendency to lose weight even without trying to diet.
Pomegranate, especially, pomegranate seeds can help improve metabolic syndrome. Food & Nutrition published research that showed pomegranate “exerts hypoglycaemic effects, including increased insulin sensitivity, inhibition of α-glucosidase, and impact on glucose transporter type 4 function, but is also responsible for a reduction of total cholesterol, and the improvement of blood lipid profiles, as well as anti-inflammatory effects through the modulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor pathways. These effects may also explain how pomegranate-derived compounds function in the amelioration of adverse health effects caused by metabolic syndrome.”
I highly suggest the Food Combining diet and the main reason is because it promotes a healthy gut. While there are many that believe this diet is not effective, it is the diet that I used when healing from stage 3 colon cancer. It’s also an easy diet to follow – one that the entire family can easily follow.
Cook and Eat at Home.
I highly suggest severely limiting the frequency of eating-out. Cooking at home should never be thought of as drudgery; however, that is exactly what the media and advertisers of convenience, pre-packaged foods and fast food restaurants would like you to believe. This type of emotional marketing tends to produce feelings of deprivation and of “missing out on something wonderful”. When in truth what you’re missing out on by not cooking meals at home is healthy and nutrient dense nutrition, wonderful natural flavors, the therapeutic and artistic benefits of cooking, wonderful family time and the knowledge of what is and what is not in your food. So if your mind tells you to place preparing meals at home in the “dreaded chores” category, think “for the health and emotional wellness of myself and my family.” Remember that you are not only fueling the body, but also the soul.
Healthy Oils and Fats.
Eating avocados (healthy fat) has been found to be clinically associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome in U.S. adults because avocado benefits your gut.
Make sure you are consuming healthy oils and fats such as unrefined coconut oil, organic hemp seed oil, cold-pressed olive oil and organic, cold-pressed flax seed oil. Eating organic avocados is also a healthy way to put nutritious fats into the body.
In particular, eating avocados (healthy fat) has been found to be clinically associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome in U.S. adults because avocado benefits your gut.
Experiment with different kinds of herbs for alternative seasonings. Adding herbs to your diet will help your food taste better and will add additional health benefits.
Department of Home Science at Azad University of Agriculture and Technology in India researched investigated the effects of holy basil leaves on blood glucose and serum cholesterol levels in humans using double-blind clinical trials. Results showed that holy basil caused significant improvements in blood glucose control and mild improvements in cholesterol levels. This suggests that holy basil (tulsi) supplementation can be a useful and safe way to help control diabetes as well as complications that result from the disease like metabolic syndrome.
Add Nutritional Supplements.
Add a good organic vitamin-mineral complex to your health routine. Additional supplements to research are chromium, DHEA, DHA/EPA, bioflavonoids, vitamin A (mixed carotenoids), water-soluble cinnamon extracts and berberine. Before adding these supplements to your health protocol, please discuss each one with a knowledgeable healthcare professional that knows your health situation.
Saliva test your hormones. The endocrine system affects every organ in your body and this is why balanced hormones are needed for optimum health and well-being.
Other Effective Suggestion for Metabolic Syndrome
In addition to the myriad of other health benefits associated with smoking cessation, kicking the habit will lessen insulin resistance and decrease the risk of other complications associated with the syndrome including heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.
Obese individuals stand to gain the most from losing extra body weight, but even if you lose 5-10% of your body weight, you can experience benefits such as a reduction in insulin levels and blood pressure, as well as decreasing your risk for developing diabetes. Weight loss will be a natural by-product of eating better (and less) and exercise.
Don’t set your goals unrealistically high to start—just get moving! Consistent brisk walking has tremendous health benefits, and a commitment to this will naturally lead to a more active lifestyle in other areas. Rebounding is another very effective exercise and is low impact.
Involve the whole family
Perhaps one of the most effective strategies to combat metabolic syndrome X and an unhealthy lifestyle in general is to lead by example and involve the rest of the family as well, especially children. Metabolic syndrome X tends to run in families, not because of genetics, but because of health habits passed down from parents to children.
Take one day at a time
Some people may feel that it is “too late” for them. Perhaps they have reached middle age or beyond, and it all seems too overwhelming when they consider all the needed changes and bad patterns that need to be broken. In reality, that is not true. It is never too late to implement healthy changes into our lives, it only seems harder the older we get. But it certainly is true that if we can get the next generation to start to live, eat, and think differently, perhaps the cycle of poor health in America can be broken. It’s a crying shame that with all the prosperity and resources we have available to us in this country that we can’t or won’t learn to live in a balanced manner that leads to health and wholeness of body, mind, and spirit.
What Is the Prospect for People with Metabolic Syndrome X?
Actually the prospect is very good for those who decide to take control of their health by incorporating a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a very healthy diet, daily exercise, employing stress relief techniques, hi-quality supplementation, stop smoking, and losing weight (when needed). All of these healthy lifestyle changes can drastically reduce the chances of developing serious health concerns such as a heart attack or stroke. Because some people with metabolic syndrome will have a long-term risk of cardiovascular disease, it’s always important to be monitored by a knowledgeable healthcare professional.
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