* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to cure or treat Syndrome X or any other illness. This information is provided for educational purposes only. If you have Syndrome X or have been told you have Syndrome X you should seek the counsel of your doctor. While there are many recommendations listed for Syndrome X, you should consult your doctor, naturopath or clinical nutritionist to determine which ones are best for you because when it comes to your health, it is best to not be your own doctor.
A condition that can occur prior to the onset of Type II Diabetes is known as Syndrome X. Syndrome X was originally coined by Dr. Gerald Reaven, a noted expert on health conditions involving insulin.
In the case of Syndrome X, the body’s insulin cannot lower blood sugar the way that it once did. This is because the body’s cells have increased their resistance to insulin. As a result, the body responds with the compensatory mechanism that involves the increasing of insulin production which works, at least for a while.
Syndrome X is characterized by:
1. Elevated triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
2. Hyperinsulinism or simply stated too much insulin in the blood.
3. Abdominal obesity
4. High blood pressure: Increased insulin results in salt retention and subsequent water retention as well. Excess insulin also results in
increased levels of adrenaline which along with increased water retention, results in elevated blood pressure which in itself
is detrimentalto the arterial wall.
Other possible signs of increased insulin levels seen with Syndrome X include:
- Calcium oxalate kidney stones in men
- Earlobe creases
- Abdominal obesity
- Excessive body hair, light periods and polycystic ovary disease seen in women.
The sequence of events with Syndrome X occurs as follows:
- The body’s cells develop increased resistance to insulin
- In order to maintain normal blood sugar levels, the body compensates by increasing insulin levels.
- Symptoms of sugar cravings and sleepiness after meals may be seen.
- Blood fats, blood pressure and abdominal fat all increase as a result of elevated insulin levels
- The pancreas eventually wearies in about 25% of Syndrome X cases resulting in Type II Diabetes.
While Syndrome X can be observed clinically, a 75 gram glucose challenge can be performed to determine if insulin levels are indeed elevated. Elevated insulin levels are likely to be accompanied with elevated blood pressure.
The good news with Syndrome X is that not everyone who shows signs consistent with Syndrome X will develop diabetes. The bad news is the fact that individuals with Syndrome X face a higher risk of accelerated aging and premature death even if they never develop diabetes.
Recommendations for Syndrome X
Individuals demonstrating clinical signs consistent with Syndrome X should take action to delay or prevent the onset of Type II Diabetes.
Dietary changes are the first line of defense. Individuals with Syndrome X should reduce their consumption of breads pastas and sweets. Excessive carbohydrate consumption puts Syndrome X into overdrive. Instead, one should consume foods with low glycemic indices. In other words, foods that do not dump sugar into the blood stream too quickly when they are consumed. The “South Beach Diet” is based upon the principle of glycemic index and is not only popular but sound nutrition as well.
Regular exercise is also an essential for those with Syndrome X. Exercise increases the demand for sugar within the body and thus decreases the body’s tendency toward insulin resistance. Of course you should first consult with your doctor to determine the level and type of exercise that would be both safe and beneficial.
While the following vitamins are known to have a positive effect on insulin and blood sugar, a multivitamin containing the following nutrients in addition to a wide spectrum of other nutrients would likely prove helpful.
B Complex Vitamins
B complex vitamins are important in sugar metabolism and in nerve health. See vitamin guide for more details.
Supplementation has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity
Most sources recommend 200 mcg/day. This mineral increases the sensitivity of the body’s cells to insulin. Chromium has also been shown to improve the action of insulin, decrease cholesterol and triglycerides and increase HDL’s or good cholesterol levels
To list all of the roles of magnesium would be exhausting but in the case of sugar metabolism magnesium is essential. Food processing and mineral depleted soils make it more difficult to obtain adequate amounts of magnesium through diet alone. While the RDA is 400 mg/ day as much as 600 mg/ day or more could be indicated with Syndrome X.
Most sources recommend 5-15 mg/day. Some recommend as high as 30 mg/day. Manganese is involved in energy metabolism and blood sugar control.
Potassium plays an important role with insulin sensitivity. It is preferred that potassium be obtained from the diet as much as possible.
Most common recommendations are about 2mg/day
Zinc is involved in the synthesis, secretion and utilization of insulin.
Also known as balsam pear decreases blood sugar levels and glycosylated hemoglobin levels while improving glucose tolerance. Bitter melon is often sold in juice form.
50 mg twice daily resulted in decreased fasting blood glucose levels and improved glucose tolerance. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels were also reduced with fenugreek.
Found mostly in India. Believed to support the cells that produce insulin as well as enhancing the action of insulin and improving blood sugar control. A common dose is about 400 mg/day
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Decreases insulin resistance and increases insulin sensitivity. Works in the Kreb’s cycle and quenches free redicals
Breaks down fats into energy and lowers blood fats while raising HDLs. Also increases insulin sensitivity
Promotes insulin secretion
Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Improves insulin sensitivity and aids in management of weight
Fish oil and Flax Oil
Lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels and raises HDL levels
NAC works by protecting beta cells from free radicals. Beta cells are involved in the production of insulin within the pancreas. NAC is also a precursor for glutathione..