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Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome X

Syndrome X – Overweight and Obesity

Syndrome X is a term coined in 1988 by Stanford University endocrinologist Dr. Gerald Reaven, to describe a group of symptoms including high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, high levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL or “good” lipoproteins. In the past 13 years, low levels of antioxidant vitamins and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), high cortisol levels, and depression have been added to the list.

Syndrome X – Who Suffers from It

Some experts estimate that as many as two-thirds of Americans may be suffering from Syndrome X. It can remain effectively hidden for years, masquerading as symptoms of other conditions including abdominal (apple-shaped) obesity, fatigue, poor mental concentration, edema (fluid retention), nerve damage and an intense craving for sweets.

Syndrome X – Precursor of Type 2 Diabetes

Since Syndrome X is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, it makes perfect sense that, since the overweight problem of Americans has skyrocketed in the past 20 years, according to studies, the number of people with type 2 diabetes – a disease that can result from excess weight – also increased by one-third during the 1990s.

Syndrome X – How It Develops

Syndrome X develops over time, mainly from a diet high in refined carbohydrates such as breads, starches and sweets. These foods trigger a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, and the body responds by raising levels of insulin. The more carbohydrates you eat the more your body pumps out insulin to deal with all the extra blood sugar. Eventually, your body becomes overwhelmed by the amount of insulin, sluggish in response to it – and hey presto you’ve got insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance and Syndrome X can go undetected for up to 40 years, or until serious complications begin to surface and the pancreas just can’t keep up with the demand for insulin. Some people produce two, three or four times the normal amount of insulin. Yet, because the cells have lost their sensitivity to the hormone, they require even more of it to maintain normal glucose levels.

Syndrome X – Condition

When blood sugar and insulin levels go up, Syndrome X and weight gain result. In advanced stages of Syndrome X, when the pancreas can no longer keep up, adult onset diabetes II may develop. Syndrome X also generates high levels of cell-damaging free radicals and causes premature aging. Some researchers believe it can also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and some types of cancer.

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