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Insulin Resistance

Do you have Syndrome X?

One in four Americans do. For the first time, doctors have a way to tell for sure.

Some 47 million of us are at risk for Syndrome X, also known as Insulin Resistance Syndrome. This silent, lurking "early diabetes" raises your odds for heart attack, stroke, full-fledged type 2 diabetes, infertility, certain cancers, and liver disease. But you can't feel it or see it, and your doctor may not test you for it.

This is all about to change. Two major medical groups recently released the first-ever US guidelines for finding and controlling this silent killer.

What's Happening in Syndrome X?

Insulin resistance happens when cells throughout your body somehow lose their ability to "listen" to insulin, the vital hormone responsible for ushering blood sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells, where it's used as fuel. While insulin problems are the core, Syndrome X also raises cholesterol levels and blood pressure. This sets us up for a host of health problems.

How to Outsmart It?

The good news: you can slash your risk easily, says Daniel Einhorn, MD, medical director of the Scripps Whittier Institute for Diabetes. Here's how.

Lose a little weight: Dropping 5 to 10% of your body weight can improve insulin sensitivity, meaning your cells regain their ability to listen to insulin's signals.

Move more: Exercise can help you lose weight and also seems to work on its own to improve insulin sensitivity, says Dr. Einhorn. "As little as 15 to 20 minutes of walking a day can help. And more is even better. We recommend 30 minutes of exercise a day at least 5 days a week (45 to 60 minutes if you're trying to lose weight).

Get yourself checked and rechecked

Are your efforts paying off? Find out by getting your blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides measured after 3 to 6 months.

Are You At Risk?

The more of these risk factors you have, the greater the chance you have insulin resistance.

  • Overweight or a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Over 40 years of age

  • Non-Caucasian ethnicity (Latino, African-American,
    Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander)

  • Personal or family history of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease (including high cholesterol)

  • History of glucose intolerance or gestational diabetes.

  • Acanthosis nigricans: thick, brownish, velvety patches of skin at the neck, underarms and groin.

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.


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