Metabolic Syndrome Part 1

Understanding Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X Part I

by Dr. Greg Fors, DC – Board Certified Neurologist DIBCN Posted On: 07/01/2007

The most common reason someone seeks the care of a clinician is some form of recurring musculoskeletal pain. Specifically, insulin resistance, also known as syndrome X or metabolic syndrome, is the most common metabolic problem that individuals suffer from today. The metabolic changes that take place with insulin resistance are increased glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemia; increased LDL’s and decreased HDL’s leading to increased risk for diabetes, obesity, hypertension and atherosclerosis(1). According to the most recent research, the cause of this metabolic syndrome and the pandemic of obesity is a drastic shift in our dietary patterns. One recent study now shockingly predicts that one out of every two Americans has or is developing this pre-diabetic condition insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.

How Insulin Resistance Develops
Presently it is estimated that the average American consumes a record average 154 to 180 pounds of caloric sweeteners per year(2). Our modern snacks and meals are rich in processed foods, low in fiber, high in refined carbohydrates and sugars that causes unhealthy blood glucose levels. This creates a pancreatic reaction with high insulin levels to drive down these dangerous blood glucose levels. This overproduction of insulin creates a reactive state of low blood glucose and high insulin levels. This leads to increased hunger, fatigue, pain, headaches and mood swings, thereby driving the individual to eat high glycemic foods and drink sugary caffeinated beverages in an attempt to self medicate. This creates another sugar high leading to overproduction of insulin causing the cycle to start all over. Over time, this high glycemic diet causes the cells of the body, especially the muscle cells, to stop using insulin effectively. This leads to insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, pain, fatigue and metabolic dysfunction.

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of 1) blindness, 2) kidney failure and 3) 60% of all nontraumatic lower limb amputations.
  • Diabetics die from heart disease 4 times higher than non-diabetics do.
  • A quarter of a million people die from diabetes or its complications each year.

The Dangers of Insulin Resistance Insulin resistance generally leads to Type-2 diabetes, and recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced one out of every three children born in the year 2000 would eventually develop diabetes. There are now nearly 21 million Americans suffering from diabetes, and most of them have Type-2 diabetes, the diabetes associated with our modern diet and lifestyle. The NIH estimates that one third of these individuals are not aware that they are diabetic. The main problem with diabetes is that diabetics get everything; in fact, diabetes is a major risk factor for nearly every degenerative disease today!

One of the primary reasons insulin resistance is connected to virtually all modern degenerative diseases is because of its ability to cause systemic inflammation, also known as “silent” inflammation. It happens like this, a high glycemic diet up-regulates the inflammatory cell messengers, such as IL-6 and TNF-a, causing higher levels of fibrinogen and PA1. This can readily lead to increased inflammation and free radicals production in the musculoskeletal tissues. These metabolic changes in the musculoskeletal system have been shown to promote osteoarthritis(3), rheumatoid arthritis and chronic back pain(4). Because of this association between insulin resistance and musculoskeletal disorders, it is vital for today’s chiropractor to effectively address the root causes of this metabolic disorder. This becomes even more vital when we stop to recognize the strong connection between insulin resistance and the epidemic of obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and some types of cancers.

  1. Preuss HG. Effects of glucose/insulin perturbations on aging and chronic disorders of aging: the evidence. J Am Coll Nutr. 1997 Oct; 16(5):397-403.
  2. Food consumption, Prices, and Expenditures, 1970 — 1997. Economic research service, USDA. Statistical bulletin number 965. April 1999.
  3. Ghosh P. The role of cartilage derived antigens, procoagulant activity and fibrinolysis, in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis. Medical hypothesis, 1993; 41:190-194.
  4. Hurri H. Fibrinolytic defect in chronic back pain. Acta Orthop Scand 1991; 62(5):407-409.