The X Factor

the-x-factor-metabolic-syndrome-baucominstitute

We’re always looking for the next big thing but the next big thing is already here – Metabolic Syndrome X – the biggest problem in America! The USA has the highest percentage of obese in the world, 34% female and 27.7% male, 35% of whom are Mexicans and 40% African American males.

What is Metabolic Syndrome X? In our blog last week, we shared that this syndrome is a result of having three or more metabolic risk factors: insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high lipids – TG, LDL, etc.

“94% of the rats who were allowed to choose between sugar and cocaine, chose sugar. Even rats who were addicted to cocaine switched their preference to sugar!”

Here are the symptoms:

  • Borderline high or normal blood glucose
  • High triglycerides (above 2.3 mmol/l)
  • Low HDL (good cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Excess weight resistant to dieting
  • Skin tags
  • Osteoarthritis

According to researchers at Yale University School of Medicine, insulin resistance in skeletal muscle leads to changes in energy storage and insulin-resistant individuals rerouted carbohydrates to liver fat production. This leads to elevated triglycerides in the blood by as much as 60% while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol by 20%. In a study done by Yale, participants who were young and lean, with no excess abdominal fat became insulin resistant. The good news is, they found that insulin resistance in skeletal muscle can be treated with one simple method – exercise!

Let’s talk about sugar for a moment, because that it ultimately the biggest culprit in the cause of The X Factor.

The average American eats 142 pounds of sugar a year, or about 2.5 pounds each week, a 23% increase over the last 25 years! And most of it is coming from, one guess . . . soft drinks – which includes artificially sweetened drinks as well! In the US, ¼ or 22% of the daily calories are from drinks, according to a report called “What America Drinks.”

According to Drs. Fischer, Hommel, Fiedler, and Bibergeil, in a study done on “reflex mechanism on insulin secretion,”  we are seeing that soft drinks are linked to Metabolic Syndrome:

  • Men and women who drank more than one soda daily had a 48% adjusted higher prevalence
  • insulin level rises in the first minute after the start of a carbohydrate-rich meal, vs glucose level rising in the third minute of a balanced diet
  • An increase in triglyceride levels and LDL
  • Consumption rose 135% of high fructose corn syrup between 1977 and 2001
  • Americans eat an average of 132 calories of high fructose corn syrup a day

In a lab experiment with rats by the University of Bordeaux called “Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward,” 94% of the rats who were allowed to choose between sugar and cocaine, chose sugar. Even rats who were addicted to cocaine switched their preference to sugar!

Obviously, we have to get over our addiction to this satiable substance! In the meantime, many changes have to take place to get this X Factor under control.

Doctors, in weight-loss fields, GP’s, restorative, and otherwise, are all finding that to get this syndrome under control several factors have to take place:

  • Balance glucose/insulin levels
  • Increase metabolism
  • Increase fat burning
  • Create appetite suppression

A study done by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute European Association for the Study of Diabetes found that a natural substance can greatly help in this fight:  Green Tea Catechins or EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). After 5 and 10 weeks of treatment with EGCG, and GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia, the blood sugar and insulin levels of mice were tested. The researchers found that the mice did just as well on the green tea extract as they did on the drug. The extract has been found to have these benefits:

  • Reduces fat absorption
  • Reduces LDL cholesterol/TG levels
  • Reduces glucose/insulin levels
  • Increases beta oxidation
  • Helps decrease appetite

Which ultimately:

  1. Reduce body weight gain
  2. Reduce body fat accumulation
  3. Stimulate oxidation in the liver

All in all, here are the recommendations by Alexander McLellan, ND, Neuropathic Physician in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and professor at the Canadian School of natural Nutrition and Chief Medical Officer for three clinical research trials in Diabetic Neuropathy in Canada and the US, in treating obesity and Metabolic Syndrome: Check thyroid function, Restrict carbs, Check for food allergies, Keep hydrated, Get stress levels down, Get to a support group and stay educated, Detox, detox, detox! The bottom line? It’s the samo, samo:

  • Eat right
  • Exercise more
  • Don’t rely on a “magic pill”

What do you think?

BIG Bellies – drugs or lifestyle change?

belly_fat_diabetes_baucominstituteWe have a major problem in our society . . . we’re fat! Especially in the belly. Why? Are some of us presupposed by our DNA to struggle with weight? Are we just lazy? Is it all because of what we eat?

Let’s break it down.

  • There are an estimated 23.6 million people in this country with diabetes.
  • There are another 57 million with high blood sugars
  • Between 2000 and 2010, the prevalence of a BMI >40 kg m(-2) (type III obesity), calculated from self-reported height and weight, increased by 70%
  • Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. (CDC)
  • Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.

It all comes down to insulin resistance.

What does insulin do? It helps the body utilize glucose – it’s really the key that unlocks the cell door so glucose can pass into it from the bloodstream. Once inside the cell, glucose is used either for energy or stored for use later in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles. belly_fat_metabolic_syndrome_baucominstitute

Insulin resistance occurs when a normal amount of insulin is not able to open that cell door so the body secretes even more insulin in an attempt to maintain normal blood glucose levels or when there aren’t enough insulin receptors (the average overweight person has 75% less receptors).

So, glucose stays in the bloodstream which is sent to the liver and then converted into fat and then stored throughout the body. These fat cells are even more insulin resistant and often coalesce near the middle – a lot of belly fat. Other symptoms are: headache, day-time drowsiness, insomnia, fatigue,  frequent illnesses, sugar cravings, erratic and insatiable appetite.

And then there’s Metabolic Syndrome – Syndrome X a result of having three or more metabolic risk factors: insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high lipids – TG, LDL, etc.

What’s the treatment? Do we treat the problem with drugs or with lifestyle changes?

3200 adults with impaired blood sugar control were put into three groups:

  • Metformin (drug)
  • Exercise 150 minutes per week (lifestyle)
  • Usual Care

After three years, there was a reduction in progression to diabetes:

  • 58% in lifestyle group
  • 31% in drug group

In 2008:

  • two clinical trials revealed that diabetic patients on antidiabetic medications gained no significant protection from heart attack and stroke
  • a third study was ended when interim results showed more deaths in volunteers using diabetes drugs for intensive blood sugar control.

So what’s the answer? Lifestyle change – the right nutrition and exercise. It’s simple. Age old. Cliche. But it works. We just don’t want to have to change.

Nutrition -

  • 30% protein with high fiber and avoidance of starch, sugary carbs
  • abundant greens and fresh vegetables
  • frequent ginger, garlic, curcumin, oregano, onions
  • avoidance of refined processed foods like pasta and bread
  • Avoidance of artificial sweeteners and sugars
  • Intake of nuts, legumes and lentils

Supplements -

  • Herbal treatments – Fenugreek, Guar Gum, apple pectin, beet powder, oat fiber, etc.
  • Niacin
  • Lecithin
  • Vitamin E
  • Nattokinase
  • Fish oil
  • magnesium
  • Green Tea, etc.

A restorative or naturopathic physician should always be consulted when creating a pathway to change when dealing with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

What are your thoughts on treatment insulin resistance leading to metabolic syndrome?

Hormone Series – Part VI: Cortisol

cortisol

The adrenals are two triangular shaped glands located on top of each kidney. Cortisol is one of several hormones released by these powerful glands. It is released as a “stress hormone.”

Cortisol controls:

  1. Blood sugar
  2. Fat and Protein mobilization
  3. Prevents inflammation
  4. Will make the liver make sugar from fat

The pituitary gland activates the adrenal gland by secreting ACTH. ACTH is adrenocorticotropic hormone. It stimulates the “cortical” layer of the gland to make cortisol. Cortisol has distinct bio-rhythms. It is high in the morning and by the evening is down. Stress alters the rhythm and may eventually cause the gland to become “exhausted.” “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by James Wilson, ND, PhD, is an excellent book to explain why and how cortisol depletion can result in severe exhaustion. Unfortunately this hormone is not understood by most physicians. It is a test rarely ordered and a syndrome basically ignored.

Stress factors:

  1. Anger
  2. Fear
  3. Death of family member
  4. Divorce
  5. Marriage
  6. Financial Worries
  7. Job
  8. Relationships
  9. Personal Illness
  10. In-laws

Just to name a few, are viewed as stress. These issues if chronic and severe can totally deplete this vital hormone. Thyroid and severe adrenal stress go hand in hand. Low blood pressure as well as low blood sugar may be the only symptoms. Recovery from adrenal stress can take up to a year with treatment to resolve.

Cortisol is vital to the feeling of well-being. Longevity and quality of life are severely compromised when this powerful and needed hormone is barely available. Patients will rely on sugar and caffeine to “boost” their drive because they are unaware as to the real reason for their chronic fatigue.

Since the adrenal gland is needed for survival when compromised, all the other glands suffer as well. The thyroid gland, in trying to pick up the slack, will, in time, become hypo active itself, further compounding the situation.Cortisol-is-a-hormone-300x210

Eventually the immune system falters and Lupus, Crohn’s, colitis, chronic sinus and infections can plague the individual. Abdominal obesity (cortisol paunch) along with decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and increased blood pressure herald the demise of this vital hormone. There is acute adrenal fatigue, and mild and high adrenal fatigue. Saliva testing of the morning, noon, evening and night cortisol levels is the best way to determine the level of fatigue.

At The Baucom Institute, treatment is based on the stage of fatigue and support is given to the glands until they are healed. We also encourage your lifestyle and diet be altered. Of course, alleviating the stress factors is paramount to getting the most out of your treatment.

What is your stress level? What do you think your level of well-being is right now?