The Zero Carb WOE may have a lot of virtues, from weight management to important health benefits, but if there is one great reason to eat a diet void of carbohydrate, rich in protein and fat of good quality, it is the effect it has on the METABOLIC SYNDROME.
You may have read about this syndrome, you may even suffered some of its components, so I thought it would be interesting to do a little review about it.
We rarely see the METABOLIC SYNDROME as a diagnosis by itself, the reason being it is an association of several clinically recognizable features, signs and symptoms, that are statistically related but not necessarily present in one single patient all at the same time (even if the probability it can happen do exist).
Let’s look immediately at its components then we will see what links them together. Please take note the definition may vary from one Health Authority to the other.
The METABOLIC SYNDROME requires at least 3 of the following problems in the patient:
-Obesity (Body Mass Index > 30)
-Blood pressure > 130/85
-Raised triglycerides > 150 mg/dl
-Low HDL < 40 mg/dl
-Raised fasting blood glucose >100 mg/dl
There are other components, depending again who is defining it, so it may also includes:
-Atherosclerotic vascular disease (hearth and stroke)
-Elevated body inflammation (eg. increase C-Reactive protein)
-Micro-albuminuria (protein in urine)
-Elevated uric acid (increased risk of gout)
-Polycystic ovary syndrome
-Increased level of coagulation (pro-thrombotic state)
-Fatty liver (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease-NAFLD)
The pathophysiology of the METABOLIC SYNDROME is complex and this is the reason all doctors do not recognize it. And, sadly, since humans have this infantile attitude to believe we all need to agree 100% on a subject to recognized its authenticity….
The main link between all these components is the INSULIN RESISTANCE, which is triggered by production of inflammatory compounds by visceral fat cells: carbohydrates elevate blood triglycerides, which induced visceral fat and ultimately result in insulin resistance. The chronic inflammation then contributes to an increased risk of hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes and as all the other pathologies.
A lot of folks with hypertension, but with NO diabetes, think they have the right to eat all the carbs they want. Wrong. Why? Because when they eat sweets and have an insulin rush, the production of N.O. (nitric oxide) will go down and this is THE compound that helps arteries to relax. Results: their blood pressure will go up.
Interestingly, we may find descriptions of the metabolic syndrome as early as the 1920s . From there, it got several names according to researchers, such as the “Reaven Syndrome” or “Syndrome X. But it is only in the late ’80 that the medical field becomes really interested in it’s existence.
As for the treatment, dietary restriction of carbohydrates is now proven to be a powerful tool to bring the METABOLIC SYNDROME under control, and many serious and well-done studies supports this approach. Of course, some physicians still think patients “need their carbohydrates” and so, they do not recommend it with all the consequences you may imagine.
Sadly, also, folks that do not want to stop “having their carbs” because of cultural, traditional or religious beliefs, or just because they are too addicted to starch and sweets, then become “victims of their metabolic syndrome”.
“Victims” means that each component of the METABOLIC SYNDROME will need to be treated separately, without consideration of the link between them. These patients may get medications for hypertension and diabetes, more medication for cholesterol, triglycerides and gout, even more for heart and stroke issues, then a probable surgery for a polycystic syndrome and, eventually, have to go into kidney dialysis and even to a liver transplant.
Did you know that in the state of Virginia only, 25 kids died in 2011 waiting for a liver transplant because of a fructose-induced non-alcoholic liver disease? ALL of these kids had an associated METABOLIC SYNDROME…
To finish, I would like to quote Dr. Mary Vernon, a well known physician in the Low Carb world, saying the worst patients to treat are the “normal weight METABOLIC SYNDROME sufferers”. Yes, someone may be THIN but have at least 3 of the other components and gets the diagnosis. And, yes again, trying to convince a normal weight person to go on a Low-Carb diet is a hell of a job…
Luckily, most of us on Zero Carb had a weight problem at one point and this was enough to convince us there was a problem and we had to do something about it. Let’s never forget this.