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Syndrome X: The Secret to the Puzzle of Weight Control

Carbohydrates taste good and fulfill our cravings, but, unfortunately, even though they may be low-fat or fat-free, they can add pounds, and raise your levels of insulin, cholesterol and triglycerides, contributing to Syndrome X.

It’s lunchtime. You pop a low-fat, frozen pasta dish into the microwave and enjoy it with a fruit juice. A couple of hours later, your energy wanes and you have trouble concentrating. So you head to the vending machine for a bag of low-fat chips. On your way home, you eat a peach. You’re still hungry, but you’re optimistic about how you’ve limited your calories and restricted your fat intake. Maybe this time you can really stick to a diet that will help you lose weight and feel good. Right? WRONG!

Pasta + juice + low-fat chips + fruit all add up to one thing: a diet of high carbohydrates … and lots of carbohydrates is exactly what you want to stay away from—if you want to lose weight, feel good and maintain your health.

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Carbohydrates taste good and fulfill our cravings, but, unfortunately, even though they may be low-fat or fat-free, they can add pounds, and raise your levels of insulin, cholesterol and triglycerides, contributing to Syndrome X.

What’s the answer? You can restrict your intake of carbohydrates including sugar, starch and grains … that’s the popular low-carbohydrate diet and that’s ok but there is another way. By using the right combination of supplements, designed to control your levels of blood sugar and insulin, you will get all the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet without the hassle … and you’ll watch those pounds of body fat drop away at a rate that will astonish you … sometimes as much as 4 pounds per week!

What is Syndrome X?

Syndrome X is not some rare, mysterious disease. It is a term coined in 1988 by Stanford University endocrinologist Dr. Gerald Reaven, that describes a group of symptoms including high blood pressure, abdominal obesity (a “spare tire” around the middle), insulin resistance, high levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL or “good” lipoproteins.12 In the past 13 years, low levels of antioxidant vitamins and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), high cortisol levels, and depression have been added to the list.3

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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 fatigue, poor mental concentration, abdominal (apple-shaped) obesity, edema (fluid retention), nerve damage and an intense craving for sweets.

How do you develop Syndrome X?

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 you’ve developed 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.

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.4

Fortunately, by understanding the mechanism of Syndrome X, we can now stop it in its tracks and even reverse it, leading to improved health, longer life, greater mental clarity and … yes … rapid and permanent weight loss.

The Role Insulin Plays in Your Body

Every time you eat a carbohydrate, such as a piece of bread, plate of pasta or a baked potato, your digestive system converts it into glucose, a simple sugar, which is then absorbed into the blood stream. In response to the rise in blood sugar, insulin is produced and secreted into the bloodstream by the pancreas—a glandular organ deep in your abdominal cavity, behind the stomach.

As insulin travels through the circulatory system, it regulates the metabolism, storage and level of blood sugar. This master hormone of metabolism converts some glucose into glycogen, a sugar-polymer that is stored in the liver and muscle tissues. Glycogen acts as storage fuel like a spare gallon of gasoline for your car, and can be converted back into glucose quickly and easily on an as-needed basis. The remaining glucose circulates in the bloodstream to be used for energy.

When the pancreas secretes the right amount of insulin, it regulates appetite, growth hormone, cholesterol and fluid levels. Consequently, your metabolic system keeps everything in balance.

Obesity and Excess Insulin

If you’re overweight, chances are that you crave carbohydrates. This is actually a physiological craving caused by the way your body chemistry overreacts to eating sweets and carbohydrates. And if excess glucose remains in circulation, high insulin levels will stimulate lipogenesis (fat production and storage). To compound the problem, there is evidence that high insulin levels trigger the hypothalamus (the master gland) to send out hunger signals.5

According to David K. Shefrin, N.D. of Beaverton, Oregon, “Many cases of obesity are due to an imbalance of the hormone insulin. If insulin is not rapidly cleared from the bloodstream after a meal, it will cause an individual to feel hungry. Usually high insulin will signal the body to stop eating, but if a person has chronically elevated glucose levels due to inefficient insulin, he may eat more.” Ultimately, the more refined carbohydrates a person eats, the hungrier he or she may become.6 Even if you eat as few as 800 calories a day, if you are sugar sensitive and those calories are from carbohydrates, you may find that you still gain weight.7

Obesity Begins in Childhood

Until recently, insulin resistance was thought to cause obesity only in adults, because it is considered an age-related condition. A 1998 evaluation of more than 2,000 Finnish men led to the finding that insulin resistance can lead to obesity beginning in early childhood and middle age. The researchers also noted that each five percent weight increase, at age 20, over the average for that age, was associated with a nearly 200 percent greater risk of full-blown Syndrome X by middle age.8

But its easy to stop or reverse the progression of Syndrome X now that we understand how it works. The key is to slow carbohydrate absorption while increasing insulin sensitivity … and you can do that by lowering your carbohydrate intake (the low-carb diet) and/or by using a supplement program designed to slow carbohydrate absorption, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower blood sugar levels. With this simple approach you’ll be feeling (and looking) 10 years younger, you’re energy will be vastly increased, and you won’t have any more of that sleepiness and brain-fog after meals.

Lower insulin levels help you live longer

Vladimir M. Dilman, M.D., co-author of The Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging, refers to insulin resistance as an “age-related pathology.” Blood sugar tends to increase with age, accelerating aging by cross-linking with proteins. What does that mean? In the mid-1970s, biologist Anthony Cerami discovered that chronically high blood glucose is the major trigger in a chemical process that produces advanced glycosylation end products (AGES), which are implicated in normal and advanced aging and age-enhanced diseases. AGEs form at accelerated rates whenever blood-sugar levels are high.

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The production of AGEs, which normally increases with age, eventually leads to damaging responses within the body, such as the cross-linking of collagen. Sometimes referred to as a carmelization or browning reaction, this particular type of cross-linking involves a chemical reaction between sugar and protein molecules that inflicts serious damage to cell membranes and collagen fibers. This cross-linking leads to the stiffening of connective tissue.9

As cross-links increasingly reduce the flexibility and permeability of tissues and cells, cellular communications and repair processes also begin to break down. Eventually, the tissues of the body become irreversibly transformed, and the inevitable result is aging, disease and finally death.

Slow Down Your Biological Clock

By learning how to control your insulin levels, you hold the key to slow this cross-linking—which in turn will help slow or reverse your aging process, promote rapid fat loss, improve cardiovascular health, increase energy and mental clarity, and generate a feeling of euphoric well being.

Here’s how: Get on a low-carb, anti-aging diet and/or take a nutritional supplement that helps regulate your insulin/glucose levels, and exercise. We’ve worked out the details for you so it’s easy and you’ll see improvements within weeks … so you can spend the rest of your life feeling better about your weight, your energy and your overall health!

Anti-Syndrome-X Nutritional Supplements

The nutrients reviewed in the following sections all play a critical role in maintaining proper insulin function and help to reverse Syndrome X.

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Much More

This sulfur-containing fatty acid, found in spinach and animal protein, has been shown to lower glucose levels by 10 to 30 percent and improve insulin function.10 ALA also has been used to positively prevent and treat diabetic nerve disease and reduce the incidence of cataracts in laboratory animals.11 ALA is also believed to reverse some of the fundamental signs of aging, according to a recently published animal study in which old rats that were given alpha-lipoic acid supplements had the same energy levels as young rats.12

Green Tea The Natural Starch Blocker Plus …

Studies confirm that tea catechins—potent antioxidants—are effective in suppressing increases of glucose and insulin concentrations in the blood. Since blood sugar tends to increase with age, this effect is an extremely important anti-aging benefit.13

Plus, tea polyphenols inhibit the activity of amylase, a starch-digesting enzyme found in saliva and in the intestines. Starch is broken down more slowly, and the rise in serum glucose is minimized, so that you don’t crave sweets and other snack foods after eating a meal.14 Since insulin is our most fattening hormone and, with cortisol, our most pro-aging hormone, if you drink Green Tea or take its extract in the form of a nutritional supplement, you gain a wide range of benefits that accompany calorie and insulin control.

This “starch blocking” effect of green tea may be part of the reason Japanese people living in Japan can eat so much rice but remain thin. They have a tradition of drinking green tea before every meal.

The antioxidants in Green Tea also help reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, a process that can lead to clogged arteries.15

Chromium Picolinate First Class Blood Sugar and Insulin Regulator

Nine out of 10 American diets fall short of this trace mineral, which is essential for the transfer of sugar from the bloodstream to muscle cells, thereby giving them the fuel they need to work. Chromium is involved in maintaining cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and it is also necessary for our muscles to function properly. Chromium picolinate is believed to be more effective than other chromium supplements tested because it transports chromium into the cells more efficiently.16

Chromium is believed to help build new muscle and act as a fat burner. When combined with an exercise program, chromium supplementation, even without the other synergistic supplements we suggest, has been shown to produce significant weight loss.17

Research suggests that chromium picolinate may help those with diabetes II and hypoglycemia.18 According to a study by U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher John Anderson, there is strong evidence that chromium picolinate may help to normalize glucose and insulin levels in diabetics. In this study, chromium was tested in 180 people in China with Type II (adult onset) diabetes. The scientists found that higher doses of chromium helped normalize glucose and insulin levels in the participants. “We’ve been doing chromium studies for 20 years and never saw anything this spectacular,” said Anderson. “If you take people in the general population with slightly elevated blood sugar and give them chromium supplements, you’ll see a drop in blood sugar in 80 to 90 percent of them.”19

Salacia Reticulata Supports Healthy Blood Lipids

This herb has been traditionally used in Indian medicine to treat diabetes. It has potent antioxidant properties,20 and triglyceride – and LDL cholesterol-lowering effects that aid in weight loss. Salacia contains mangiferin, which enhances the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and also contains inhibitors of sugar digestion and absorption.21

Banaba Effective in Supporting Healthy Body Weight

Banaba is a botanical extract that comes from the leaves of banaba trees and is traditionally used in the Philippines as an herbal medicine for diabetes. Corosolic acid, a triterpenoid in the leaves, acts as a glucose transport stimulator. It also appears to have strong antioxidant properties. Animal studies have shown it to be effective both for treating diabetes and obesity.22

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Momordica A Powerful Pancreas Protector

Also called bitter gourd or bitter melon, Momordica is used as a vegetable in India. Its extract improves glucose metabolism, protects the pancreas, slows carbohydrate absorption, and decreases gluconeogenesis, which is the production of glucose in the liver from other foodstuffs. It has also been shown to improve insulin resistance,23 protect and regenerate insulin-producing pancreas cells,24 and lower both blood lipids and glucose.25

Coccinia Supports Normal Glucose Oxidation

Also called Ivy gourd, this Indian herb is related to bitter gourd and is used for similar purposes as Momordica. It decreases the liver’s own production of blood sugar, and increases glucose oxidation in the liver.26

Vanadyl Sulfate The Other First Class Insulin and Blood Sugar Regulator

In 1980, this salt of the ultra-trace element vanadium was found to mimic almost all the known actions of insulin, driving sugar and amino acids into muscle or brain cells. Tests in patients with diabetes show that vanadyl sulfate can lower insulin levels and blood pressure, and improve or normalize blood glucose.27 Much of the research, so far, has been done on animals. But Dr. A.B. Goldfine and her colleagues at the Joslin Diabetes Center have found that oral vanadyl sulfate treatment resulted in improved insulin sensitivity in humans with adult-onset diabetes. Serum cholesterol levels as well were lowered in research participants.28

References

  1. Reaven, G. Syndrome X.Clinical Diabetes. 1994; 3-4, 32-52.
  2. Reaven, G. Syndrome X: 6 years later. J Int Med Suppl. 1994;736;13-22
  3. McCarty MF. Enhancing central and peripheral insulin activity as a strategy for the treatment of endogenous depression. Med Hypotheses. 1994; 43 (4): 247-252.
  4. Challem, Jack, Smith, Burt Berkson, M.D., Ph.D., Melissa Diane Smith. Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance, 2000, John Wiley & Sons.
  5. Dilman, V, Dean. W. The Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging and Degenerative Disease. Pensacola, FL:The Center for Bio-Gerontology, 1992.
  6. The Burton Goldberg Group. Alternative Medicine pg. 764, Future Medicine Publishing, Inc., 1997, CA.
  7. DesMaisons, Kathleen, Ph.D. Potatoes Not Prozac, pg. 31, Simon & Schuster, 1998, New York.
  8. Everson SA, et al. Weight gain and the risk of developing insulin resistance syndrome. Diabetes Care. 1998;21(10):1643-1643.
  9. Mooradian Ad, Thurman, JE. Glucotoxicity – potential mechanisms. Clinics in Geriatric Med. 1999; 15(2):255-262.
  10. Jacob S, et al. The radical scavenger a-lipoic acid enhances insulin sensitivity in patients with NIDDM: a placebo-controlled trial. Presented Oxidants and Antioxidants in Biology, Santa Barbara, CA., 1997 Feb 26-Mar 1.
  11. Nagamatsu M et al. Lipoic acid improves nerve blood low, reduces oxidative stress, and improves distal nerve conduction in experimental diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes Care, 18: 8,1995 Aug, 1160-7.
  12. Hagen TM, Ingersoll RT, Lykkesfeldt J, et al., “(R)-a-lipoic acid supplemented old rats have improved mitochondrial function, decreased oxidative damage, and increased metabolic rate,” FASEB JOURNAL, 1999.
  13. Horigome, T., Kumar, R and Okamoto, K.: Brit J. Nutr., 60,275-285 (1988)
  14. Kreydiyyeh SI et al. Tea extract inhibits intestinal absorption of glucose and sodium in rats. Comp Biochem Physiol C Pharmacol Toxico Endocrino 1994;108:359-65.
  15. Luo, M., et al. “Inhibition of LDL oxidation by green tea extract.” The Lancet 199, 349:360-361.
  16. Anderson RA, Cheng N, Bryden NA, Polansky MM, Cheng N, Chi J et al. “Elevated intakes of supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin individuals with Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes 1997;46(11):1786-91.
  17. Grant, K.E., et al. “Chromium and exercise training: Effect on obese women,” Med Sci Sports Ex 29(8):992-998, 1997.
  18. Evans, G.W. “The Effect of Chromium Picolinate on Insulin Controlled Parameters in Humans.” International Journal of Biosocial Medical Research 11 no.2 (1989): 163-180.
  19. Anderson, R.A.; et al. “Effects of Supplemental Chromium on Patients with Symptoms of Reactive Hypoglycemia.” Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental 36 no. 4 (Apr, 1987): 351-355.
  20. Yoshikawa M, Ninomiya K, Shimoda H, Nishida N, Matsuda H. “Hepatoprotective and antioxidative properties of Salacia reticulata: preventive effects of phenolic constituents on CCl4-induced liver injury in mice.” Biol Pharm Bull 2002 Jan;25(1):72-6
  21. Yoshikawa M, Morikawa T, Matsuda H, Tanabe G, Muraoka O. “Absolute Stereostructure of Potent alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitor, Salacinol, with Unique Thiosugar Sulfonium Sulfate Inner Salt Structure from Salacia reticulata.” Bioorg Med Chem 2002 May;10(5):1547-54
  22. Suzuki Y, Unno T, Ushitani M, Hayashi K, Kakuda T. “Antiobesity activity of extracts from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaves on female KK-Ay mice.” J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1999 Dec;45(6):791-5
  23. Miura T, Itoh C, Iwamoto N, Kato M, Kawai M, Park SR, Suzuki I. “Hypoglycemic activity of the fruit of the Momordica charantia in type 2 diabetic mice.” J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 2001 Oct;47(5):340-4
  24. Ahmed I, Adeghate E, Sharma AK, Pallot DJ, Singh J. “Effects of Momordica charantia fruit juice on islet morphology in the pancreas of the streptozotocin-diabetic rat.” Diabetes Res Clin Pract 1998 Jun;40(3):145-51
  25. Ahmed I, Lakhani MS, Gillett M, John A, Raza H. “Hypotriglyceridemic and hypocholesterolemic effects of anti-diabetic Momordica charantia (karela) fruit extract in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.” Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2001 Mar;51(3):155-61
  26. Shibib BA, Khan LA, Rahman R. “Hypoglycaemic activity of Coccinia indica and Momordica charantia in diabetic rats: depression of the hepatic gluconeogenic enzymes glucose-6-phosphatase and fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and elevation of both liver and red-cell shunt enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase.” Biochem J 1993 May 15;292 ( Pt 1):267-70
  27. Effects of vanadyl sulfate on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Metabolism (United States) Sep 1996, 45 (9) p1130-5.
  28. Goldfine, A.B.,D.C. Simonson, F.Folli, M.E. Patti, and C.R. Kahn. “Metabolic Effects of Sodium Metavanadate in Humans with Insulin Dependent and Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus in Vivo and in Vitro Studies.” J ournal of Clinical Endocrinological Metabolism 80, no.11 (1995): 33111-20.

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