Q. I keep hearing about Syndrome X and increased body fat. What is Syndrome X, and how can I prevent it?
A. Syndrome X is a metabolic disorder that causes weight gain, especially around the abdomen, resulting in an apple-shaped figure. It can also cause unfavorable changes in blood fats, increasing your risks for heart disease and diabetes.
According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, Syndrome X affects one in three American adults.
Syndrome X often results from an unhealthy diet. You can develop Syndrome X if your diet is high in sugar and saturated fat, and low in protein, fiber, vegetables and the “friendly” fats found in fish and flax oils. Syndrome X can also develop if your diet is too low in fat and too high in certain carbohydrates.
Not all carbohydrates are the same. They’re rated by their glycemic index, which tells you how quickly they convert to glucose (sugar) in your body. For instance, beans and whole-grain breads convert slowly and have a low glycemic index, whereas potatoes convert quickly and have a high glycemic index.
To avoid syndrome X, it is recommended that you eat carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. For more information on glycemic index, read “The Glucose Revolution” by Jennie Brand-Miller, T. Wolever, S. Colagiuri and K. Foster-Powell.
Syndrome X is also called insulin resistance, because it causes certain tissues to develop a resistance to insulin. Your insulin normally shuttles sugar across cell membranes, but if cells resist insulin — or prevent it from doing its job — the sugar stays in the blood stream for longer periods.
High levels of blood sugar are associated with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other health problems.
Research shows that deficiencies of calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, chromium, and other nutrients can play a role in the development of insulin resistance. Stress and a lack of exercise are also major contributors.
Regular exercise is critical to preventing and treating Syndrome X, because exercise makes your tissues less resistant to insulin. It also helps you feel better by reducing stress, and look better by increasing muscle mass and decreasing body fat. In addition, exercise lowers your risk for heart disease and diabetes by improving your cholesterol, blood fats and blood sugar levels.
You can avoid Syndrome X, and a big belly, by maintaining a healthy diet and keeping fit.
Article was originally printed in the Honolulu Advertiser, honoluluadvertiser.com