Metabolic Syndrome (Hyperinsulinemia, Syndrome X)
By Steven Horne, RH (AHG) & Kimberly Balas, ND

Research has brought to light a previously hidden cause of many modern illnesses. Dubbed metabolic syndrome X, this condition involves cellular resistance to a hormone called insulin, which causes insulin levels in the blood to rise, a condition known as hyperinsulinemia.

We have all heard that a deficiency of insulin produces a condition known as diabetes, but that's only true in type I diabetes (10-15% of cases). In most cases of diabetes (type II) there is an excess of this pancreatic hormone. In type II diabetes, insulin is being produced in excess, but isn't working due to cellular resistance. If this sounds like type II diabetes and syndrome X have the same cause, you got it. Type II diabetes is one of the serious health problems syndrome X can cause, but it isn't the only one.

Too much insulin is linked to high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis. In fact, excess insulin is a bigger risk factor for cardiovascular disease than excess cholesterol.

Hyperinsulinemia is also a major cause of obesity, because insulin causes the body to store more fat. It disrupts sodium metabolism, increasing water retention. By depressing neurotransmitters in the brain syndrome X contributes to depression. In women, 75% of all cases of polocystic ovarian syndrome are also related to too much insulin.

In the initial stages, producing too much insulin causes a rapid lowering of blood sugar levels, which causes hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This increases the craving for sweets and stresses other hormone systems. It interferes with the conversion of thyroid hormone to T-3 which can result in functional hypothyroidism. Another negative effect is a rise in cortisol production from the adrenals. This reduces our ability to cope with stress, lowers our immune response and eventually exhausts our adrenals. Excess cortisol also contributes to aging.

Do You Have Metabolic Syndrome?
If you want to know if you have Syndrome X, you could have lab tests run to check your insulin levels. (Fasting levels of insulin should be below 10 units.) However, there is an easier way—measure your waist and hips.

Abdominal Obesity is a major indicator of excess insulin production. So, grab a tape measure and check your circumference at the navel and at the widest part of your hips.

In men, if your waist measurement is larger than your hips, you've got Syndrome X.
In women, the waist should be less than 80% of the hip measurement.

Another indicator of Syndrome X is your triglyceride and HDL levels in routine blood tests. If your triglyceride level is greater than 200 or your HDL level is less than 35, you're having problems with excess insulin production and insulin resistance.

Here are some contributing factors to the development of syndrome X:
• LOW fat diets or diets high in saturated fat.
• Too many omega-6 essential fatty acids in the diet, with insufficient omega-3.
• Sedentary life-styles and lack of exercise.
• Deficiencies of dietary chromium and magnesium. Deficiencies of zinc, manganese, vanadium, B-vitamins and vitamin A may also be involved.
• Eating foods that excess insulin production, especially refined carbohydrates.
• High carbohydrate, low protein diets.

Overcoming Metabolic Syndrome

The secret to correcting metabolic syndrome X lies in some basic life-style changes. The first is resistance exercise. Resistance exercise trains muscles to take up glucose without the need for insulin, thereby decreasing insulin requirements. After just five days of no exercise insulin resistance increases. Conversely, when we do exercises like weight lifting sufficient to make our muscles "burn" a little, we are causing our muscle tissue to take up sugar without insulin.
Thus, a program of muscle building exercise (at least three times per week) will help Syndrome X and reduce our risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

A second secret is changing the kinds of fats we consume. Transfatty acids, found in margarine and vegetable oils, and saturated fats increase cellular resistance to insulin. Most vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, but deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease insulin resistance. Switch from vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats (fries, chips, pastries, bagels, etc.) to high quality fats like olive oil, butter and flax seed oil.

A third secret is to avoid refined carbohydrates. Get on a low glycemic diet, cutting out grain, sugars and high starch foods from your diet. Eat lots of non-starchy fruits and vegetables instead.

An appropriate program of dietary supplements will also help to overcome hyperinsulinemia (but not without appropriate dietary changes). Here are some suggestions.

If not reversed by dietary improvement, cells become resistant to insulin. Moisture and sugar are nor drawn into the cells like they should be, leading to increasing blood sugar levels. When this starts to happen, the Chinese formula HY-C is very helpful.

HY-C treats a condition known in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) as yin deficiency. Yin is associated with water and sugar (the sweet taste). HY-C nourishes the yin, helping the body absorb and utilize water and nourishment. It is indicated where there is dryness and excess thirst. When a person feels thirsty, drinks water, urinates heavily and is still thirsty they need this formula.

Dry skin, dry eyes, dry cough, constipation with dry stool, dry mouth, burning sensations in the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet and low grade fever and iflammation are all indications for HY-C. It may also be helpful for symptoms like sore throats, ringing in the ears, night sweating, hypoglycemia, hypertension and insomnia.

Below is a list of suggested products. Those in bold are key products for the health issue explained on this page.
For details and ordering simply copy a product's name in the search box above or click on the bold name.

Exercise and Glycemic Diet

Herbs: Golden Seal and Licorice Root

Herbal Formulas: HY-C, LIV-J, pro-pancreas and Super Algae

Nutrients: Chromium GTF, CIA and Omega-3

Nutraceuticals: Carbo Grabbers and SugarReg

Essential Oils: Cinnamon and Rosemary

Foods: Xylitol