Do You Have Syndrome X?
By Melissa Diane Smith
© Copyright 2001 by Melissa Diane Smith
This article was first published in Great Life magazine, March 2002.
Cutting back on refined carbsd can prevent this condition, a precursor to heart disease and diabetes.
If you have a fat tire or a roll excess weight around the middle, chances are that you have Syndrome X.
Syndrome what? The mysterious-sounding term may be unfamiliar, but it refers to a cluster of common conditions: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides and unhealthy blood cholesterol ratios. Because these heart disease risk factors tend to occur together, they have become known as a "syndrome."
Even if you have just one of these conditions combined with insulin resistance, a prediabetic condition that can cause any of the others, you have Syndrome X. The more Syndrome X indicators you have, the more at risk you are for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and accelerated aging in general.
Curb the Carbs
Syndrome X develops over time from a diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as sweets, breads, and flour- and sugar-based snack foods. These foods trigger a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and the body pumps out high amounts of blood-sugar-regulating insulin to deal with the excess. Eventually, insulin resistance develops: the body's cells become overwhelmed by so much insulin, they become sluggish in response.
Syndrome X is a type of prediabetes that's estimated to affect 65 to 70 million Americans. Middle-aged baby boomers are the most likely candidates to acquire the syndrome, but teenagers and children can also develop it.
Syndrome X and type II diabetes have become public health problems because we have strayed a long way from the food we were meant to eat. Humans evolved on a diet rich in animal protein and non-starchy vegetables, which promoted steady blood sugar levels. Today, the average American eats few vegetables and too many high-carbohydrate, refined grain and sugar, which are often combined with processed fats. All of this creates a perfect recipe for developing Syndrome X.
The good news healthy eating habits can correct Syndrome X. Follow the "Anti-X" principles below and you'll take the most important step toward improving your health.
The 9 Anti-X Diet Principles
- Avoid refined carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and sweets of all sorts-basically, all foods made with sugar, other concentrated sweeteners, white flour and white rice.
- Eat foods in as natural and fresh a state as possible. Choose an apple over applesauce and fresh vegetables over canned. Unprocessed foods tend to be higher in nutrients than processed foods and better for blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Emphasize non-starchy vegetables in your diet. Non-starchy vegetables, such as salad greens, broccoli, green beans and asparagus, cause minimal rises in blood sugar and insulin levels and are very nutrient dense.
- Keep your intake of natural carbohydrate-dense foods moderate or low, depending on your condition. Whole grains, beans, starchy vegetables and fruits are higher in carbohydrates than non-starchy vegetables, so they can contribute to the development of Syndrome X, especially if your blood sugar metabolism is not ideal. To prevent Syndrome X, include these foods in small amounts in your diet. If you already have Syndrome X, avoid these foods until your weight, blood pressure and blood fats normalize.
- Avoid soft drinks, fruit juices and alcohol, which sabotage glucose, insulin and weight control. Good Anti-X drink choices are carbohydrate-free water, sparkling mineral water, herbal tea, black tea and green tea.
- Avoid vegetable oils, such as corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower and cottonseed oils, and use cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil instead. Vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which in excess can promote insulin resistance and obesity. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, improve insulin sensitivity when substituted for carbohydrates.
- Enrich your diet with heart-healthy omega-3 fats whenever you can. Eat more coldwater fish, including salmon, trout, tuna and sardines; omega-3-enriched eggs; and flaxseeds and flaxseed oil on salads and cooked vegetables.
- Steer clear of trans-fatty acids, found in margarine, vegetable shortening, deep-fried foods and foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils. Trans-fatty acids promote insulin resistance and obesity and greatly increase the risk of heart disease.
- Eat some protein at every meal and snack, and opt for poultry, fish or omega-3-enriched eggs over fatty cuts of meat. Protein is important because it stimulates the production of glucagon, a hormone that opposes insulin and allows the body to burn stored body fat.