What is Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome is the modern disease – diabetes is one of it’s ramifications


 

To know what diabetes is you first need to know what metabolic syndrome is. Diabetes associated with metabolic syndrome. The standard definition of metabolic syndrome adopted by the National Cholesterol Educational Program’s Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP-ATP)  
A cluster of five chronic conditions:
  1. obesity
  2. diabetes
  3. high lipid profile
  4. hypertension
  5. cardiovascular disease
All of these factors will increase your risk of death. If you have three out of five you have metabolic syndrome. The true cause of metabolic syndrome is not known, but there is evidence and associations with certain foods and chemicals.
This cluster of conditions is increasing on an alarming rate and soon will overtake smoking as a leading cause of heart disease worldwide. The concept of disease clusters has been known for a few decades but it was only in the 80′s that the links between obesity, high cholesterol and fat in the blood were made. You don’t have to be obese to have it; skinny people get it too, 40% of normal-weight adults have it. The role of obesity and metabolic syndrome are still not clear however everyone seem to agree that insulin resistance is the hallmark.

 

Insulin resistance creates the following pathways leading to metabolic syndrome.
  1. Metabolic syndrome starts in your liver. As the liver accumulates fat due to excess glucose intake and can’t be processed fast enough; the liver becomes insulin resistant. A fatty liver leads to a cascade of events which damage every organ in the body.
  2. As the liver becomes insulin resistant it begins to malfunction in its most important function – the transport of energy. The pancreas sensing this begins to produce more insulin. This added insulin surge only makes matters worse causing more fat to be stored in the liver and creating more insulin resistance leading to obesity.
  3. The liver tries to get rid of the fat by transporting it to subcutaneous tissue thus flooding the blood with lipids (fat in the blood) increasing the risk for heart disease.
  4. The excess insulin now in the system causes smooth muscles cells that surround the blood vessels to grow abnormally fast causing constriction thus leading to high blood pressure (so glucose over consumption has something to do with high blood pressure)
  5. The combination of insulin resistance, fatty liver and high blood pressure causes many problems and lead to cardiovascular disease and risk of heath attack and stroke.
  6. Fatty liver disease can progress to cirrhosis
  7. As the pancreas goes ballistic producing more and more insulin to compensate for insulin resistance by the liver it risks having a total failure from the β cells thus leading to diabetes type II
  8. Hyperinsulinemia is a condition associated with the growth of various cancers
It all comes down like this: The liver is the first to be hit. 20% of all calories you ingest goes to the liver and it is used for three tasks:
  • First it uses some of that energy for its own functioning needs
  • Second when the energy entering the liver is glucose the liver turns excess glucose into glycogen which is then available to be used as stored energy and when you are not eating
  • Third the liver has to deal with the excess of glucose ingested such as table sugar, alcohol, high fructose corn syrup. This extra energy is processed into fat and if it fails it can get very sick very fast




The second cascade problem is the production of reactive oxygen species or ROS. The body has two pathways to break down energy; one is glycolysis which breaks down glucose straight into energy. The other is the Krebs cycle which occurs inside the mitochondria and 80% of the energy produced in our body takes place in this way. The problem is that it leaves behind a byproduct from the metabolic process which is called ROS and when there is an excess of this it can cause damage to the cells which needs more antioxidants to prevent injury to the cells. With poor diet and the lack of antioxidants ROS can wreak havoc and lead to metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome can strike ethnic groups differently. Males with metabolic syndrome are seven times more likely to have fatty liver disease then woman. Blacks get more high lipids in the blood and high blood pressure then Caucasians; but blacks are bound to have fewer diagnoses of metabolic syndrome then whites. Latinos have a high prevalence of blood lipids but have less high blood pressure. Blacks and Latinos appear to be more insulin resistant then whites. These differences across a racial span make this disease very difficult to be diagnosed. Regardless of the ethnic group predisposition for metabolic syndrome it is a known fact that certain foods and how we consume them have a direct and consistent link to the disease.

 

Branches of foods leading to metabolic syndrome
  • Trans fats
    • Can’t be broken down in the mitochondria because they are a synthetic product. They have been long associated with metabolic disease and the hardening of the arteries. Recently they have become less popular and the media has helped to reveal its true character but trans fat still being found in many industrialized foods, candies and baked goods making children especially vulnerable
  • Branched-chain amino acids
    • We can’t make them so we eat them and they are abundantly found in corn food stuffs, so every time you eat beef of pork you are ingesting them. They are not bad for you if you need them or can process them. Body builders consume them in great quantities in their protein shakes but because if you are building muscle it is being processed posing no harm. If you don’t need them because you don’t perform heavy work that require strength branched-chain amino acids are processed as fat
  • Alcohol
    • In small doses it can be good for you and doctors recommend a couple of glasses of wine at the dinner table. Alcohol has been clearly associated with metabolic syndrome when consumed in great amounts especially if the alcohol contains sugars. Alcohol goes to the mitochondria without stopping at glycogen creating more ROS.
  • Fructose
    • Probably the worst of all three. Fructose consumption is growing all around the globe and nothing seems to be able to stop it. Sugar is added to 80% of package foods under different names so you don’t even know if the food you buy has sugar. Children eat fructose at an alarming rate. There is a clear correlation and causation to metabolic syndrome and the consumption of glucose.
There are no drugs to cure metabolic syndrome. There are several drugs that can alleviate high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, there are drugs to make your heart become more efficient; drugs to reduce lipids in your blood, but these drugs are only helping your organs work better after they have been damaged by metabolic syndrome. These drugs don’t solve the problem. Your cells are still being attacked by an extra load of ROS and your liver still getting sicker and sicker and your body creating more and more insulin and insulin resistance.
There are lifestyle modifications you can do and the best ones are diet and exercise. You can increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables supplying your body with anti oxidants you can stop eating junk food and trans-fats and stop altogether ingesting foods containing high fructose corn syrup these steps are the only way to prevent the real causes of metabolic syndrome at the source. It sounds over simplistic but the body knows exactly what to do when you provided the right foods and exercises.

 

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