Do You Suffer from Syndrome X?
Syndrome X isn’t some exotic threat used by a villain in a James Bond movie. It’s a disease state that puts you at risk for major heart complications. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you won’t need a world class spy to help treat it.
Metabolic syndrome is another name for Syndrome X. Thanks to our rising obesity epidemic, it’s become a new age disease that wasn’t even heard of hundreds of years ago. But it is real and should be considered very dangerous. Unlike other problems in the body, metabolic syndrome requires you to deal with a whole host of problems all at the same time.
You can become diagnosed when your body meets any three of the following five criteria: abdominal obesity as measured by your waist circumference (there’s different standards for men and women), high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high triglycerides (the amount of fat in your blood), and high cholesterol. Many people have one or two of these ailments, but having all five at the same time basically creates an alliance of disease that can lead to heart disease. Hence the menacing name Syndrome X.
While each disease is different from one another, they tend to feed of each other. Meaning that having a large amount of fat in your blood can lead to high cholesterol. Have those two for a while and you can end up with clogged arteries; now your heart has to work harder to pump blood and you now have high blood pressure. You can see how the complications can add up.
The old school recommendation for getting your health on track was to simply limit the amount of fat in your diet. That was back in the good old days. In today’s day and age, there’s an understanding that certain types of carbs can lead to heart disease too. According to Dr. Johnny Bowden, a high fructose diet (fructose can be altered to sweeten junk food and is even found in sporks drinks and condiments) can raise your triglycerides, even more so than dietary fat. That’s not to say that it’s okay to eat slabs of bacon, but treating disease isn’t as simple as just “don’t eat X.”
While everyone should work with their physician to deal with health issues, one of the ways to help deal with metabolic syndrome is to reduce the fat found in your abdominal area. Excessive fat around your stomach can cause your organs to go haywire. Your pancreas and liver want room to breathe, so suffocating them with stored fat is a surefire way to get them to throw in the towel.
One of the best ways to rid yourself of belly fat is through interval work. An interval workout is simply altering high intensity work with low intensity recovery. As a personal trainer, it’s my “go-to” workout for getting clients in shape. It’s hard, but it breaks the monotony of just mindlessly jogging on the treadmill while attacking your body’s fat stores. Case in point: when subjects performed 8 seconds of hard work on a cycle, they lost belly fat (1). This was compared to a group that did non-stop exercise (think running on a treadmill) and lost nothing. Interval exercise is also great for your health- diabetics that did 60 seconds of hard work paired with 60 seconds of recovery had a 10% decline in their resting blood sugar (2). You can read more about interval training on the UEFP website.
Syndrome X is definitely nothing to play around with, but don’t let the menacing name psych you out. Regular check-ups with your physician along with a sound interval training program can be your allies against this dangerous disease.
1. Irvin, BA., Davis, CK., et al. “Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition.”(2008) Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 40(11):1863-1872.
2. Little, J.P., Gillen, J.B., et al. “Low Volume High Intensity Interval Training Reduces Hyperglycemia and Increases Muscle Mitochondrial Capacity in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.”(2011) Journal of Applied Physiology.(111): 1554-1560