Metabolic Syndrome Philadelphia PA

The biggest epidemic in America hasn't come from birds, Asia, or germs. It's caused by the food we put in our mouths, and it has already affected some 70 million to 100 million American adults.

Greater Phila Health Action, Inc.
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Greater Phila Health Action, Inc.
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Wyncote, PA
 
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Medical School: Jefferson Med Coll-Thos Jefferson Univ, Philadelphia Pa 19107
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Metabolic Syndrome

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By Jack Challem

The biggest epidemic in America hasn’t come from birds, Asia, or germs. It’s caused by the food we put in our mouths, and it has already affected some 70 million to 100 million American adults.

Doctors refer to the condition as metabolic syndrome, Syndrome X, or insulin-resistance syndrome. If you have it and don’t do anything about it, you’ll be on the fast track to diabetes and heart disease and a constellation of other health woes, including cancer, prostate disorders, and stroke.

“You can diagnose the telltale sign—a pot belly—all by yourself, standing in front of a mirror,” says Fred Pescatore, MD, a nutritionally oriented physician in New York City. “The bigger your belly, the worse off you probably are.”

In addition to abdominal obesity, the other key signs of metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, high levels of triglyceride (a type of blood fat), low levels of the “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and high levels of either blood sugar or insulin. (See “Diagnosing Metabolic Syndrome” on page 36 for details.) High insulin levels point to insulin resistance, a characteristic of glucose intolerance, which hamstrings the body’s ability to properly use the hormone to burn sugars and carbohydrates.

One Long Sugar Rush
Consider the case of Richard, a high-powered East Coast business executive. In December 2005, he was 50 pounds overweight, his blood pressure was inching up, and his blood fats were skyrocketing. Richard (whose name we’ve changed) turned to Pescatore, who coached him on better eating habits and recommended several nutritional supplements. Six months later, he had lost 40 pounds, and his blood fats and blood pressure were back to normal.

“Most of the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome will correct themselves just with changes in the diet,” says Pescatore.

He ought to know. Pescatore, author of The Hamptons Diet (Wiley, 2004), grew up as chubby kid, and he would have stayed overweight had he not realized how contemporary American eating habits pack on the pounds and sabotage people’s health.

“Metabolic syndrome results from eating too many sugars and simple carbohydrates, including fruit juice and soft drinks,” he says. “Look at the typical fast-food meal, with simple carbs in the bun, unhealthy fats in the fries, and sugars in the soft drinks. It all boils down to unnutrition.”

What exactly happens? Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates—candy bars, desserts, bread, pizza, pasta, and soft drinks—break down rapidly in the body, leading to a surge in blood sugar levels, followed by a rush of insulin. Insulin helps cells burn blood sugar for energy. But after years of dealing with high insulin levels, the body becomes resistant to it. That’s when both blood sugar and insulin levels stay elevated, leading to a diagnosis of diabetes.

But eating too many sugars and refined carbs also does a number on the liver, which regulates blood sugar in tandem with the pancreas (which...

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