Metabolic Syndrome / Syndrome X

By Body

Metabolic SyndromeFor the past two newsletters, I have focused on the effects that sugar has on our bodies. In the first newsletter, I discussed the immediate effects of sugar in blood sugar levels. In the second one, I focused on insulin resistance, which occurs with long-term sugar abuse. This month I would like to focus on metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is on the rise in the United States and generally follows insulin resistance. In essence, metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for stroke, coronary heart disease and type two diabetes. Researchers have not been able to identify whether the syndrome is due to a single cause but one thing that’s certain is ALL of the risks for the syndrome are related to obesity.

The two most important risk factors for developing metabolic syndrome are:

  • Extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body. This is often described as “apple-shaped.”
  • Insulin resistance-which as you learned in the last newsletter is when the body uses insulin less effectively leading to a rise in blood sugar and fat levels accompanied by significant difficulty losing weight.

Additional risk factors that lead to metabolic syndrome include aging, genetic predisposition, hormonal changes and LACK OF EXERCISE. People who have metabolic syndrome often have two other problems that can either cause the condition or make it worse and that is excessive blood clotting and increased markers for signs of inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in general is highly linked to disease.

So how do you know if you are headed towards or have metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is present when you have three of more of the following signs:

  • Blood Pressure equal to or higher than 130/85mmHg
  • Fasting blood sugar equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL
  • Large waist circumference:
  • » Men-40 inches or more
  • » Women- 35 inches or more
  • Low HDL cholesterol:
  • » Men-under 40 mg/dL
  • » Women- under 50 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL

Whether we are discussing sugar handling issues, insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, all three are aided by exercise or promoted by lack of exercise. What you eat also plays a critical role; however, we have got to get moving as a nation if we are to reduce the obesity in ourselves and in our children. Obesity in children is at an all time high. Our children come to understand their relationship to food and their bodies by the example we set and what we teach them. We are failing and we are getting sicker by the day as a nation.

If you are new to exercise start simple. You are much more likely to have success if you begin slowly. Honor where you are and find something that you like to do. Recently I had a conversation with a woman who expressed how much she detested exercise but in prodding further, I found she loves to ride bikes. She is now riding her new bike all over town, losing weight and loving it. Do whatever makes you feel good, don’t fight yourself. You may be surprised to find you actually like exercise and in addition, you’ll feel and look better.

If you are new to our newsletter and wish to review the past articles on sugar and its effects on the body, please visit our website at and search under articles by Dr. Pat for these and other articles that may be of interest to you.


By Mind, Spirit

ForgivenessStop and think about it for a minute. Is there anyone in your life that you need to forgive? If so, holding on to it is one of the most destructive things you are doing to yourself. That’s right, to you. When we are in the position of needing to forgive it usually means, “someone has done us wrong”. For many of us, we hold on to that because it makes us right and them wrong. There is a misguided feeling of power that goes with this feeling. The problem is that we can become a slave to it and it can effect all areas of our lives without our even being consciously aware.

How many times have we held onto a grudge when the other person isn’t even aware of the fact that we are upset? They have long moved on but still we hold on to the feeling letting it churn inside. Sometimes we don’t forgive because we believe if we forgive them it will let them off the hook and it condones whatever they have done. Forgiving them does not let them off the hook; it lets us off the hook. What ever they did to you is something they have to live with. Sure it can be painful, but it is more painful to hang on to it and continue to give it life.

Many years ago, I was betrayed by someone who had “done me wrong”. In reality, she had betrayed herself more than me but being a sensitive soul, it still effected me deeply. Little by little, I started not trusting people. I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it. It became a low-grade level of pervasive stress. I began to wonder in the back of my mind if others would do what they told me they would. I had never been like that before this and I really didn’t like the feeling. I chalked it up to getting older and needing to be more mindful. Periodically, the old hurt would run through my mind begging to be set free but I held on. I was never going to let myself be fooled like that again.

Then one morning, I was laying in bed, reviewing the day and I became aware that I was worried if an upcoming event would happen as planned; I worried if the plane would be on time; I wondered if the purchase I had paid extra for early delivery would get there on time. It suddenly dawned on me how much of this stress was about trust. When did I get this way! I never remembered feeling like that before and I recognized how much irritability I was feeling in that moment. Over the next few weeks, I began to really examine this behavior, and as time went on, I was able to trace it back to the betrayal that had happened to me. I was doubting and not trusting others in my life over what this one person had done. The only person who was suffering was me. Gratefully, over time I was able to get back to trusting fully again, but it would have never happened if I hadn’t experienced the power of forgiveness.

It’s important to realize that forgiveness isn’t something that always takes place in a moment. TRY THIS instead of the previous sentence: It’s important to realize that forgiveness is something that often takes time. Sometimes it takes a while to let go of what happened. That’s not to say that it can’t happen in a moment. If it is your intention to forgive, you will, whether it takes a moment or months.

The New Year is a time again when many of us begin to set goals and begin thinking about what we want to accomplish or complete. As you set your upcoming intentions for this year, check in and ask if your need to forgive is holding you back in any area of your life. It just may be the thing that sets you free to succeed in ways you hadn’t imagined.

What Are Your Chances of Becoming a Diabetic?

By Body

After writing the last newsletter article, I received many requests to expound on insulin resistance.  Many expressed that their doctor indicated they were insulin resistant but other than knowing they should cut the sugar out of their diets they didn’t really have a clear understanding of what was occurring internally or exactly what insulin resistance is.

Before we delve into insulin resistance, it is important to understand how sugar and insulin work optimally in our body.  When we eat, the food goes into our stomach where it is broken down into glucose. From there the glucose goes through the intestinal wall and enters your blood stream where it becomes blood sugar. This is what is measured when your doctor is checking for sugar in your blood panels. Our brain needs glucose (as well as other nutrients) and therefore a certain amount of sugar needs to be circulating in the blood stream.  I am sure at some point we have all experienced that foggy headed, irritable low energy feeling that comes with skipping a meal or going to long without food.   This happens because our brain is starving for its food.   Glucose can’t get into the cell without some help and this is where insulin comes in.  The insulin takes the glucose and puts it into the cells and continues to do that until the glucose levels come down and you don’t need the insulin any more.  Theoretically, when the glucose levels go down, you will burn fat stores until the next meal.

It is when this system begins to overreact that insulin resistance starts to occur.   By definition, insulin resistance is a condition in which normal amounts of insulin are inadequate to produce a normal response from fat, muscle and liver cells.  It is important to realize that insulin resistance is not something that occurs because you have had a bad week and ingested a lot of sugar.  Insulin resistance happens over a many years of sugar abuse.  A statistic that I recently came across at a conference stopped me in my tracts.

According to the report issued by the US CDC 2011 and US Department of Human Services 2011, 77% of all Americans will be diabetic or pre-diabetic by the time they reach sixty-five years of age and it’s actually higher and earlier this year. How did this happen? A little history will help you understand how we got this way.

Back in the eighties, the government became concerned about the rising levels of heart disease occurring and it was believed that it was the association with saturated fats that was the culprit.    A new public health policy was delivered and the surgeon general came out and said that fats were the problem and we now needed to eat a low fat diet.  The problem was that low fat meant high carbohydrates.   I know that many of you reading this are old enough to remember when we were told to eat pasta with vegetables, whole wheat bread, multigrain cereals, etc.    For many people, this was sweet music to the ears, as most of us love our carbohydrates.    Being dutiful citizens, we piled on the bread, pasta, cereals and all the carbohydrates we could think of.  After all we wanted to be healthy and this is what we needed to do.  A typical day would start off with cereal, juice and maybe a fruit followed by lunch that was a low fat turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread and then dinner would consist of some pasta dish and if you were really healthy you might put vegetables in it.    All day long our glucose levels would go up high and then back down.

Unfortunately as a nation we are still eating excessively gross amounts of carbohydrates. The body is incredibly efficient and it can predict when you are going to have carbohydrates so as sugar begins to rise it releases too much insulin and the insulin does what it’s supposed to do. But now you have the excess insulin that is left is circulating in the blood stream.  This is where the problem begins.  Having extra insulin circulating in your blood stream causes three things to happen.

  • Sugar Cravings – when you have the extra insulin in your system your body wants to use it so you get hungry for sugar.
  • Reactive hypoglycemia -this is when your blood sugar drops low and you feel the symptoms we described earlier such as low energy, irritability, brain fog and fatigue.
  • Can’t burn fat! The presence of extra insulin in your blood completely   prevents you from burning fat.   When you can’t access the fat for energy in between meals, you get tired, crave sugar, and generally eat something like a bagel or anything that you think will boost your energy and then the cycle continues.   You do feel better in the moment, but the problem is that you have now released more insulin and the cycle begins again.

How many of you have gone on a diet and no matter what you do you just can’t seem to lose the weight?  The likelihood that you have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome is very high.


You can start by:

  1. Reduce carbohydrates until sugar cravings and or fatigue go away (this is about 60 grams  of carbs/day for most people). NOT including green vegetables such as beets or carrots
  2. Eat every three hours. Not big meals but consider nuts, cheese fruit, etc.  This will help maintain a consistent blood sugar level and avoid the highs and lows.
  3. Increase intake of fat and protein and try to eat a little fat with everything.
  4. Never skip meals.
  5. Exercise – Interval training and weight lifting are best as opposed to hours of cardiovascular workouts.
  6. Avoid too much fruit, processed foods of any kind, and high fructose/corn syrup.

If you are diligent, you should start to see a change in a very short period of time.   Next month, we will cover “Metabolic Syndrome,” which happens after your insulin resistance goes unchecked.  This involves hormonal changes, increased triglycerides and cardiovascular disease.