The Metabolic Syndrome

6 December 2003 




We all know that our patients here in Australia are not getting any thinner. Even the children are becoming couch or computer potatoes.It is obvious that our diets and the Metabolic Syndrome are contributing not only to the epidemic of Diabetes and Cardiovascuklar Disease in Australia but also because of fluctuations in Insulin due to this and stress--also to -- the epidemic of Depression. Any comments about this??




Health Concepts Newsletter---A Summary
September/December 2003

The Expanding of America and The Metabolic SyndromeNot only is America known for her strength, sheís becoming known for her size as well. She is literally expandingóat the waistline. It is now estimated that 65% of the adult population in the US are either overweight or obese and most authorities agree that 25% of the children in the US are either overweight or obese. The most recent issue of Time Magazine, claims an even higher number stating that nearly 37% of our children are now overweight.

Needless to say, we should find these figures absolutely appalling. But I fear we show little concern because few are aware of the extreme health dangers involved in this growing epidemic. Not only has obesity increased more rapidly than at any other time in history, the diseases associated with obesity such as: heart disease, cancer stroke, and diabetes, are also at an all time high.

Being overweight is no longer considered a social problem only; it has become a major health concern. In the January 8, 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers examined the years of life lost strictly as a result of the excessive weight people are carrying. For example, an obese 20 year-old male, can anticipate his remaining years of life will be reduced by 22% simply because of his weight. An obese 20 year-old female, can expect to lose 13% of her future life expectancy. It is estimated that over 280,000 deaths annually in the US alone are due directly to obesity. Obesity will soon take over smoking as the primary preventable cause of death if these trends continue.

Killer Fat

Over the past several years a new concept has emerged: not all fat is the same. The most dangerous fat is that which accumulates around the belly. Abdominal fat is indeed a major concern when it comes to your health. This "killer fat" is referred to in the medical literature as "Central Obesity". For ladies, a waistline greater than 34.5 inches (76 cm) and for men, a waistline greater than 40 inches (88cm) is an indication of serious health problems.

This abdominal or "visceral fat" is metabolically more active than the fat in other areas of the body and plays a large role in what is now referred to as the Metabolic Syndrome. You may have also heard of this condition referred to as Syndrome X or Insulin Resistance Syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by:

  • Central Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Elevated Triglycerides
  • Elevated LDL and VLDL (even more dangerous) Cholesterol
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol
  • Increased Fibrinogen levels (increased tendency to clot)
  • Accelerated aging of our arteries
  • Increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Even though central obesity is only one aspect of this constellation of problems, it is the most visible sign indicating insulin resistance and its corresponding inner health risks.

Why does this syndrome exist? When a person consumes too much sugar and processed carbohydrates he becomes less and less sensitive to his own insulin, and the body compensates by producing more and more insulin. As the blood insulin levels rise, it creates a serious chain of metabolic events, which leads to the Metabolic Syndrome.

Insulin Abuse

Without being aware, our choices in food and drink have become so filled with sugars, this delicate balancing hormone, insulin, is terribly abused. Consider soft drinks alone. Statistics show that on average, every man, woman, and child consumes 500 12-ounce cans of soda pop each year. Not only is there over 10 teaspoons of sugar in most sodas; many are loaded with caffeine, which also stimulates the release of sugar from the glycogen stores of the liver.

We`ve not even counted other sugared drinks, sport drinks, and alcohol. Now try to imagine the amount of sugar America consumes with all our processed foods, ice cream, cakes, donuts, candy, cereals, white bread, white flour, etc.

Every time we consume one of these items it introduces a major influx of glucose into our blood stream. The blood sugar rises rapidly, which then causes an excessive stimulation of insulin. Insulin is our "storage hormone" and its job is to take this sugar from our blood stream and drive it into the cell to be utilized or in many cases primarily stored as fat. Therefore, almost all of this sugar is stored in the fat cells located primarily in our abdomen.

The blood sugar then quickly falls (usually below the normal fasting blood sugar level), creating another problemólevels of blood sugar are now too low or hypoglycemic. In response, the body begins secreting hormones to drive the blood sugar back up into the normal range. Even though blood sugars return to normal, we are left with an "uncontrollable" hunger and the body will crave foods that will again spike the blood sugar.

When we eat another high carbohydrate meal or snack, the entire process starts over again. Weíve become victims of our own poor eating habits and all the while increased insulin secretion continues doing its job, which is to create more and more fat from our excessive sugar and processed carbohydrate intake.

When you are in a state of insulin resistance, your body holds on to the fat and will not let go. In fact, one of the hallmark symptoms of having insulin resistance is not being able to effectively lose weight. Have you ever wondered why diets donít work? Before fat can be released, the underlying problem must be corrected. You must become more sensitive to your own insulin first.

Diets Donít Work

Weight loss diets are characterized as short-term solutions for a long-term problem. The very idea of "going on" a new diet, means that sometime in the near future we plan to "come off" that diet and return to our normal eating habits. Medical research has shown that two thirds of the fortunate individuals who can lose weight will gain it back within one year and almost 100% gain their weight back within two years. Why? The reason is simpleópeople come off their diet.

If diets worked, we would all be thin. It is not as though we havenít been trying. Over 30% of the population is trying to lose weight and at any one time another third of the population is trying to maintain their weight. Americans are spending over $30 billion every year trying to lose weight. But just the opposite is happening. As a nation, we are all getting fatter and fatter in spite of this tremendous amount of money spent.

Healthy Lifestyles that have a Side Effect of Fat Loss
The only way to have permanent weight loss is to develop healthy lifestyles. The solution to our nationís "expanding" crisis will only be found by developing lifestyles that will reverse insulin resistance and allow people to release fat effectively and permanently while decreasing the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.

When you combine three main approaches to healthy living: eating a healthy diet (not spiking your blood sugar), modest exercise, and taking high quality nutritional supplements that provide cellular nutrition, you can successfully reverse insulin resistance and the results are phenomenal! Blood pressure goes down, cholesterol and triglyceride levels drop, HDL cholesterol increases, blood sugars improve, and you will begin releasing fat and losing weight like youíve never been able to before.

When choosing the right foods: fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and Omega 3 fats, it isnít necessary to restrict calories. Insulin levels begin to fall and glucagon levels (the fat releasing hormone) begin to rise. Your body will then be able to reverse this damaging process that has been going on for years and at last your body will begin to release fat.


Insulin Resistance

With the combination of our All-American diet (made up of primarily all high-glycemic and highly processed carbohydrates), and our daily inactivity, many of us are not as sensitive to our own insulin as we need to be. The body must compensate by producing increased amounts of insulin to hammer the sugar from our meals into the cell. This rise of insulin levels in our blood stream leads to the metabolic changes listed above. This is very dangerous due to the fact that elevated blood insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) are not only an independent risk factor for heart disease but also the underlying cause of the central obesity, high blood pressure, elevated lipids in our blood stream, and eventually type 2 diabetes. Over 80 million Americans alone have already developed Metabolic Syndrome and an equal number are well on their way of developing this invisible syndrome, which will significantly decrease the quality and length of their lives

There is no approved medical treatment for insulin resistance. Instead, Physicians wait until their patients develop these health risks while basically ignoring the root cause. It is my personal belief that physicians donít try to recognize the early signs of insulin resistance because they donít have a drug to treat it. This may change in the near future; the pharmaceutical industry would love nothing more than to find a medication indicated for this! Currently, the only effective way to treat or reverse insulin resistance is found through the triad of healthy lifestyles.

Cellular Nutrition
Oxidative stress is an underlying cause of over 70 chronic degenerative diseases like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimerís disease, diabetes, macular degeneration, etc.

By providing all the needed nutrients to the cell at optimal levels, the cell is able to determine what it does and does not need on a daily basis. This allows the cell to replenish any nutritional deficiency. The body is then able to optimize its natural antioxidant defense system, immune system, and repair system.

Another very important benefit of cellular nutrition, is that: when you provide all of these nutrients to the body at these optimal levels, you also are providing nutrients to the body that have been shown to improve insulin resistance.

Micronutrients Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the best antioxidant located within the plasma or blood. It also has the ability to easily neutralize the superoxide free radical that is created by hyperglycemia and elevated triglycerides. When vitamin C is given in supplementation to diabetic patients who already have significant endothelial dysfunction (definition), endothelial function as well as nitric oxide function shows marked improvement.

Vitamin C also has the ability to regenerate vitamin E. Antioxidants work synergistically together in the body to provide the organism with a greater protection against radical damage than any single antioxidant can provide by itself.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is the most potent antioxidant within the cell membrane. Dr. Paolisso, et al., reports that optimal levels of vitamin E not only help reduce the oxidative stress created by hyperglycemia and elevated triglycerides in the blood stream; insulin function is also improved. Vitamin E helps glucose transport and improves the pancreatic beta cell response to glucose along with its subsequent production of insulin.

Chromium Supplementation

Chromium levels are not only critical for the proper functioning of insulin but also for fat and glucose metabolism in the body. Most all diabetic patients are very low in chromium and several studies have considered the benefits of giving diabetic patients chromium in supplementation. In fact, chromium is now routinely added to intravenous nutrition solutions used for very ill diabetic patients.

Presently there are no practical methods of determining chromium status in the body. Therefore, it should be supplemented at optimal levels (at least 300 mcg daily) especially for those with insulin resistance or diabetes mellitus. Dr. Richard Anderson, et al. reported a rapid drop in hemoglobin A1C levels, significant decrease in triglycerides (along with an increase in HDL cholesterol), and blood sugar levels with the use of chromium supplementation.

Supplemental chromium leads to an increased binding of insulin to the receptor sites of the cell. There is also evidence that chromium allows insulin to be more active and effective in doing its job. Dr. Anderson concludes that the overall effect of supplemental chromium is to increase insulin sensitivity, which leads to helping reverse of the Metabolic Syndrome.

Magnesium Supplementation

Magnesium plays a very important role in glucose metabolism within the body because like chromium it affects both insulin secretion and action. It has been demonstrated in numerous studies that as people age their magnesium levels decrease. This phenomenon is seen in both non-diabetic and diabetic patients who also suffer from increasing insulin resistance. Dr. Paolisso and his group also studied how supplemental magnesium improved insulin secretion and enhanced insulin action.

Other Micronutrients

Several other micronutrients have been studied in patients with insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus as well. Dr. Thompson and Dr. Godin reviewed the medical literature and found strong evidence for supplementing their patientsí diet with zinc, manganese, glutathione, selenium, and vanadium, which improved insulin sensitivity. Studies involving vanadium have drawn increasing interest over the past few years because of its ability to improve insulin sensitivity when given at optimal levels. In addition, Dr. Marfella, et al. found that supplementation with glutathione (a very potent intracellular antioxidant) actually reversed some of the negative effects of high blood sugars on the arteries.


A triad of a healthy diet, modest exercise, and cellular nutrition are all needed to reverse the difficult problem and health consequences of insulin resistance. Patients who make one or two of these lifestyle changes will show improvement; however, when they make all three of these lifestyle changes the results are phenomenal. They begin to release fat, blood pressures drop, lipids improve, heart disease is stabilized, and if they are diabetic they show significant improvement.

The medical literature strongly supports offering patients with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes a trial of healthy lifestyle changes before any drugs are started. Recognizing insulin resistance in its earliest stages will allow our patients to reverse and further prevent it with relative ease through lifestyle changes.

Summarised from articles by Dr Ray Strand

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