Could Syndrome X Be Diet-Related?

Syndrome X, also referred to as metabolic syndrome, is a group of intertwined metabolic disorders.

The condition is often co-morbid with obesity and overweight, elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, blood pressure abnormalities, and insulin resistance.

A sizeable chunk of the U.S. population may currently be suffering from some form of this Syndrome X.

Some studies suggest that 50-plus million Americans may have the condition--and nearly a third of all people in other Western industrialized nations might have it, too.

Risk factors for metabolic syndrome include:

Can going on a low-carb diet alleviate symptoms?

Low-carb diets have won high-profile advocates within the community of researchers studying this disorder. Many physicians now routinely advise their metabolically-challenged patients to stay away from high sugar foods, for instance.

Here’s one explanatory framework for why the disorder might occur:

Modern high-carb Western diets drive us to produce an overabundance of insulin--particularly after we eat meals rich in simple sugars and carbs. Over time, these insulin spikes degrade our cells' ability to absorb glucose from the blood stream. We thus need more and more insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. But the more insulin we make, the more insulin we need the next time we eat sugar. It’s a vicious cycle that drives a spiral of health problems.

Could carbs really drive this? After all, it's very difficult scientifically to tease out cause and effect.

True. Just because statisticians find associations--for instance, between obesity and metabolic syndrome--doesn’t mean researchers can say for sure what's causing what.

Maybe dietary carbs cause this problem; maybe they don’t. It’s an extremely reasonable inference, but the only way to “know for sure” is to conduct better science.

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