Special edition: Inflammation

Is ‘Syndrome X’ treatable with food?

By Shane STARLING

- Last updated on GMT

Frequently Syndrome X is considered a medical issue and left to the medical world to ‘treat’, even as the science builds around probiotics, vitamins, minerals, omega-3s...Image: iStock.com/HYWARDS
Frequently Syndrome X is considered a medical issue and left to the medical world to ‘treat’, even as the science builds around probiotics, vitamins, minerals, omega-3s...Image: iStock.com/HYWARDS

Related tags: Nutrition, Inflammation

Inflammation is an immune system response to counter injured or stressed body parts and zones – a good and necessary thing – but contemporary diets and lifestyles have overheated the mechanism resulting in a host of chronic health issues. So goes our contemporary understanding of what is sometimes called ‘metabolic syndrome’ or ‘Syndrome X’…

The question is: If unhealthy dietary evolution is mostly to blame, can nutritional interventions help, or has Syndrome X become so chronic only medical interventions are going to make any difference?

As commercial and academic R&D labs seek to define the various maladies and the agents that can control them, the diversity of the condition makes causality difficult to define, and this can translate into confusion in the marketplace.

Just last week The New Yorker​ magazine ran a long feature about inflammatio​n​, trying to unravel and comprehend it. In 2013 Science ​devoted an issue to inflammation. A few years ago a similar piece featured on the front page of Time​ magazine.

The take away messages are similar – Syndrome X is harming health and lives and costing billions in doctor and hospital visits but a complete understanding of its complex workings may be some way off - and with it the role of both nutrition and medicine in its prevention.

Reflecting this state of affairs, inflammation-based marketing is controlled in most legal jurisdictions for foods and supplements purporting to battle the range of metabolic maladies.

Frequently Syndrome X is considered a medical issue and left to the medical world to ‘treat’, even as the science builds around nutrients like probiotics, vitamins, minerals, omega-3s to prevent or moderate conditions as varied as obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and osteoarthritis.

Medicine versus food

It is a classic case of a to-and-fro between the food and medical worlds.

research labs science .

A case where a large but inconclusive body of nutrition science reveals a great amount of potential to reduce the severity and occurrence of a group of debilitating diseases and health problems – and with it increasingly unmanageable public healthcare costs that World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show cost hundreds of billions of euros each year.

But at the same time a case where a relatively nascent body of science is still sifting the mingling of nutrient intakes, lifestyle, socioeconomics and health outcomes.

Such ambiguity allows regulators and policy makers to take a neutral position, or push the issue to the medical world where interventions and results are more easily defined.

There will always be a place for medical treatments when these maladies reach chronic status. 

Can food treat Syndrome X? No. But the role of better nutrition to alleviate or prevent its rise, can only grow in importance.

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5 comments

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inflammation in 20 tissues from chronic methanol --WC Monte paradigm

Posted by Rich Murray,

Methanol (wood alcohol) comes from wood and cigarette smoke, aspartame, dark wines and liquors, fresh tomatoes, unfresh fruits juices vegetables stored wet in sealed containers -- ADH1 enzyme makes it into uncontrolled formaldehyde right inside cells of 20 tissues, only in humans -- Prof. WC Monte give many references at WhileScienceSleeps site...

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Ketone diet/ Atkins has always worked.

Posted by savvyfrog,

agree with Rhonda. Also ketone diet is a good way to avoid those sugars and restore balance.

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Food CAN treat Met. Syndrome

Posted by Rhonda Witwer,

At least nine clinical trials s have shown that resistant starch (delivered as a supplement or in food) significantly increases insulin sensitivity - one of the major biomarkers for Metabolic Syndrome. In fact, a health claim petition has been submitted in the U.S. on this very topic. The data is consistently and very clear - it works the best in individuals with prediabetes or insulin resistance, but higher doses can improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with normal insulin levels. If we do not start develop and promoting convenient foods for this condition, every government on earth is going to go bankrupt over the escalating costs of type 2 diabetes, (according to the International Diabetes Federation). We have no time to waste I expect the FDA will approve resistant starch's qualified health claim early next year.

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