Syndrome X refers to a group of health problems that may include high blood pres- sure, overweight, and abnormal blood fats (cholesterol or triglycerides) and always includes a metabolic disorder known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the resistance of one’s cells to the blood sugar–transporting hormone insulin, which results in poor glucose metabolism. Excessive production of insulin leads to obesity, increased blood pressure, and high blood fats (triglycerides). Other terms that are sometimes used by doctors to describe syndrome X include metabolic syndrome, glu- cose intolerance, insulin resistance, and prediabetes.
The letter “X” in syndrome X, was so named because researchers in the past did not fully understand this syndrome, and X represents the unknown. Today syndrome X is a recognized condition and is well understood as a metabolic disorder. People who have untreated syndrome X are more prone to inﬂammatory disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
The modern American diet of reﬁned carbohydrates and low ﬁber and a deﬁciency of essential fatty acids, combined with nutritional deﬁciencies and a lack of exercise, sets the stage for insulin resistance. Once insulin resistance has occurred, the cluster of symptoms known to accompany syndrome X, such as a weight problem or obe- sity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides, becomes evident. If you have two or more of these symptoms, many experts feel that you have syndrome X. People with syndrome X often have an “apple”-shaped body, as insulin promotes fat storage around the belly.
Syndrome X is best prevented and treated through nutrition, nutritional supple- ments, exercise, and other natural methods. As a matter of fact, we ﬁnd that once a patient has been identiﬁed as having Syndrome X and follows our speciﬁc natural pro- tocol, there is often a dramatic reduction in weight, blood lipids, and blood pressure, as well as an improved energy level.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
• Insulin resistance and glucose intolerance (as diagnosed by blood testing)
• High blood pressure
• Abnormal blood lipids (high total cholesterol and triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol)
• Excess fat around the belly or the chest
The following tests help assess possible reasons for syndrome X and insulin resistance:
Hormone testing (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, progesterone)—saliva, blood, or urine
Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially magnesium, chromium, vana- dium, zinc, B vitamins)—blood
Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool analysis
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
• Unhealthful diet
• Chronic stress and the resulting
stress hormone imbalance
• Nutritional deﬁciencies, especially
of chromium, B vitamins, zinc, vanadium
• Lack of exercise
The most important therapy for syndrome X and insulin resistance is a healthful diet.
These dietary suggestions will help regulate your levels of sugar and also reduce your risk of complications, such as cardiovascular disease.
Follow a diet that’s high in ﬁber (vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains). Water-solu- ble ﬁber, as found in oat bran, beans, nuts, seeds, and apples, for example, helps to balance blood sugar. Ground ﬂaxseeds should be consumed daily. Consume 1 tea- spoon with each meal or 1⁄4 cup daily. Make sure to drink plenty of water when you start taking ﬂaxseeds (10 ounces per tablespoon). A daily total of 35 to 50 mg of ﬁber daily is a great goal.
Consume vegetable protein (legumes, nuts, seeds, peas) or lean animal protein (turkey, chicken, ﬁsh) with each meal and most snacks. Protein drinks that have low sugar levels can be consumed. Protein helps smooth out blood-sugar levels. Many peo- ple with diabetes ﬁnd beneﬁt by increasing the relative amount of protein in the diet.
Focus on quality fats. Fish such as salmon is excellent, as are nuts and seeds. Use olive and ﬂaxseed oil with your salads.
Instead of eating three large meals, have several smaller meals throughout the day to keep your insulin and blood-sugar levels steady. Or have three main meals, with healthful snacks in-between. Do not go longer than three hours without eating.
A chromium deﬁciency contributes to blood-sugar problems, so eat plenty of brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, whole grains, cheese, soy products, onions, and garlic. Onions and garlic will also help lower blood-sugar levels and protect against heart disease.
Enjoy plenty of berries, plums, and grapes, which contain phytochemicals that pro- tect your vision.
Focus on foods with a low glycemic index and load value. See the Diabetes entry on pages 189–196 for more information.
Food to Avoid
Stay away from simple sugars. Obvious ones to avoid are candy, cookies, sodas, and other sweets.
White, reﬁned bread also spikes blood-sugar levels. Whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas are better choices, although you need to read the labels because they may contain an overabundance of carbohydrates. Brown rice, barley, oats, spelt, and kamut are complex carbohydrates that are good choices.
Eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet, as they can spike blood-sugar lev- els and thus insulin for some people.
Cut back on your consumption of saturated fat. Found in red meat and dairy prod- ucts, it has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Avoid artiﬁcial sweeteners. Instead use diabetic-safe and more healthful natural sweeteners such as stevia, or xylitol.
Stay away from oils and foods that contain trans-fatty acids. Margarine, deep-fried foods, and most packaged foods, such as cookies, crackers, and pastries, contain hydrogenated oils. These land mines of trans-fatty acids promote insulin resistance.
Avoid high glycemic–load foods.
Consume detoxifying super green foods, such as chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, bar- ley grass, or a mixture of super green foods. These foods also stabilize blood-sugar levels.
In a study of 180 men and women with type 2 dia- betes, twice daily the participants were given a placebo, 100 mcg of chromium picol- inate, or 500 mcg of chromium picol- inate. Insulin values decreased signiﬁ- cantly in both groups that received supple- mental chromium
Super Seven Prescriptions—Syndrome X
Super Prescription #1 Chromium
Take a daily total of up to 1,000 mcg. Chromium improves glucose tolerance and balances blood-sugar levels.
Super Prescription #2 Gymnema sylvestre
Take 400 mg of a 25 percent gymneic acid extract daily. Gymnema lowers blood- sugar levels.
Super Prescription #3 Alpha lipoic acid
Take 300 to 1,200 mg daily. Alpha lipoic acid improves insulin sensitivity.
Super Prescription #4 Vanadyl sulfate
Take 100 to 300 mg daily. It improves glucose tolerance in people with insulin resistance. Higher dosages should be used under the supervision of a doctor.
Super Prescription #5 Biotin
Take 9 to 16 mg daily. Biotin is involved with proper glucose metabolism.
Super Prescription #6 High-potency multivitamin
It supplies many of the nutrients involved with blood sugar metabolism. Take as directed on the container.
after two and four months.
Super Prescription #7 Essential fatty acids
Take a formulation that contains a mixture of omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. Flaxseed or ﬁsh oil, combined with evening primrose oil, is common. Take as directed on the container. This supplement provides essential fatty acids that are needed for proper insulin function.
An antioxidant formula supplies additional antioxidants, which are generally required in higher amounts in people with insulin resistance. Take as directed on the container.
B-complex vitamins are involved in blood-sugar metabolism. Take a 50 mg B-com- plex daily.
Zinc is required for proper insulin production and function. Take a daily total of
30 mg daily.
Vitamin C helps prevent oxidative damage, which is more common with this con- dition. Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily.
Magnesium is involved with insulin production and utilization. Take a daily total of 500 to 750 mg. Reduce the dosage if loose stools occur.
Vitamin E-complex improves glucose regulation and prevents cholesterol oxida- tion. Take 800 to 1,200 IU daily of a formula containing tocotrienols and tocopherols.
Milk thistle has been shown to improve blood-sugar levels. Take 600 mg of sily- marin extract daily.
Banaba leaf has been shown in both animal and human studies to lower blood-sugar levels. Take 16 mg three times daily.
Adrenal extract supports adrenal gland function, which is also important for blood-sugar regulation. Take 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach or as directed on the container.
DHEA is often low in people who have insulin resistance. If tests show that you have low levels, take 5 to 25 mg daily under a doctor’s supervision.
Psyllium will reduce blood-sugar levels. It is a good source of ﬁber. Take up to 5 grams daily.
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) has been shown in a study to help improve blood- sugar levels. Take 200 mg daily.
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) can help balance blood-sugar levels. Take 5 ml twice daily of the tincture or 200 mg three times daily of a standardized extract.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is an important herb for stabilizing blood sugar and helps reduce your risk of heart disease and other circulatory disorders by improving blood ﬂow, lowering elevated blood pressure, and reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol. Take
300 to 450 mg twice daily.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is another herb that stabilizes blood sugar. Take a product with an equivalent dosage of 15 to 50 grams daily.
Policosanol is a good supplement to use for elevated cholesterol levels. Take 10 mg with the evening meal.
Consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised to individualize homeopathic treatment.
• See an acupressurist for a speciﬁc treatment based on your symptoms.
Diabetics and people with unhealthy blood-sugar levels often suffer from poor cir- culation. A massage is a relaxing way to improve blood ﬂow. Regular massaging of the feet may be especially beneﬁcial to help ward off foot ulcers.
Work the points that correspond to the pancreas, the liver, and the thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands. You will probably have to massage these points every day for sev- eral months to see an effect.
Have fun trying the many different relaxing oils. Refer to page 658 for more information on aromatherapy oils; you may want to start with bergamot, jasmine,
lavender, rose, sandalwood, or ylang ylang. Use them in a massage, a bath, lotions, or any of the other methods listed in the Aromatherapy chapter.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Insulin resistance puts additional stress on almost every part of your body and every area of your life. Keep up your emotional health by experimenting with the stress- reduction techniques discussed in the Exercise and Stress Reduction chapter. When you ﬁnd one or two you like, practice them on a regular basis.
• Don’t smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke. If you have insulin resistance, you are vulnerable to heart and kidney damage, both of which are linked to smoking. You may also have circulation problems, and smoking impairs blood ﬂow.
• If you are overweight, it is imperative that you lose weight safely.
• Exercise regularly to maintain optimal blood-sugar levels. Walking after meals is effective for some people.