Americans are infatuated with a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, although in truth, most Americans eat a high-carbohydrate and high-fat diet. Over the years, our diet has taken its toll, and many of us have become less and less sensitive to our insulin as a result. Insulin is basically a storage hormone that drives sugar into the cell to be utilized or stored as fat. The body desires to control our blood sugars. Therefore, when the body becomes less sensitive to its own insulin, it compensates by making more insulin. In other words, our bodies respond to increasing blood sugar levels by forcing the beta cells of the pancreas to produce more insulin in order to control our blood sugars.
Individuals with insulin resistance need more and more insulin as the years go by to keep their blood sugars normal. Although these elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia), are effective in controlling our blood sugars, they also may lead to some serious health problems.
Below is a list of harmful effects elevated insulin levels cause. These are the problems that constitute syndrome x-
- Significant inflammation of the arteries, which can cause heart attack and stroke.
- Elevated blood pressure (hypertension).
- Elevated triglycerides (good) cholesterol.
- Lowered HDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Increased LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Increased tendency to form blood clots.
- Development of significant uncontrolled weight gain-usually around the middle.
When the entire syndrome X factors is combined, our risk of developing heart disease actually jumps twentyfold. Considering the fact the heart disease is the number-one killer in the industrialized world today, we cannot afford to disregard a growing risk of developing it. After patients have had syndrome X for several years (may be up to 10 to 20), the beta cells of the pancreas simply wear out and can no longer produce such high levels of insulin. At this point, insulin levels begin to drop and blood sugars begin to rise.
At first only mild elevations of blood sugar may develop, which is known as glucose intolerance (or preclinical diabetes). More than 24 million people in the United States are at this stage of glucose intolerance. Then, usually within a year or two, if no change in lifestyle occurs, full-blown diabetes mellitus will develop. The aging of the arteries then accelerates even faster as blood sugars begin to steadily rise.