Barbara Loevinger, M.D., at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Women’s Health & Research, studied this risk and determined a significant association between the occurrence of fibromyalgia and metabolic syndrome (MBS). Elizabeth Maloney, Ph.D., of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, also found an association between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and MBS.
She hypothesized that increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system and reduced adrenal function, which have both been documented in fibromyalgia patients, may set the stage for metabolic syndrome in women with fibromyalgia. Loevinger says that MBS in women with fibromyalgia was not due to increased weight or inactivity, and concluded, “fibromyalgia per se … may be a risk factor for MBS.”
Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.
Metabolic Risk FactorsThe five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors. You can have any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. You must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
Insulin resistance factors
- A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or "having an apple shape."
- A high triglyceride level (or you're on medicine to treat high triglycerides).
- A low HDL cholesterol level (or you're on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called "good" cholesterol.
- High blood pressure (or you're on medicine to treat high blood pressure).
- High fasting blood sugar (or you're on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. It helps control glucose, or blood sugar. Glucose is our body’s key source of energy, fueling our bodies to function. All of the food we eat is broken down into proteins and nutrients, which are used in metabolism, cell replacement, and immune function. The amount of fuel we need varies all the time, but our blood sugar levels need to remain stabilized. Insulin helps regulate those levels.
Normally glucose is carried by the bloodstream to individual cells, and insulin signals the cells to absorb the glucose that fuels our body. But when there is too much glucose in the body, cells become desensitized and the body continues to release more insulin, allowing blood sugar levels to become high. Prolonged high levels of insulin disrupts cellular metabolism, increases inflammation, and eventually the cells quit responding to the signal from insulin creating insulin resistance.
How to control insulin resistance
Syndrome X is not a life sentence, and so can easily be dealt with because glucose levels can be influenced by lifestyle, proper nutrition, and exercise.
- To help balance insulin, consider a diet consisting primarily of lean meats and protein, high-fiber, whole grains, leafy greens, fresh vegetables and legumes, and fresh fruit.
- Plan daily meals to consist of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks. Each meal should contain some lean protein, and no more than 15 grams of carbohydrates.
- Be sure to get enough fiber, preferably in the form of vegetables and fruits.
- Essential fatty acids (EFA) or healthy fats, are important to help insulin resistance. These fats include tuna, salmon, and other cold-water fish; fish oil supplements, eggs, avocado, and flaxseed, which can be taken in as a nutritional supplement.
- Taking a pharmaceutical-grade, nutritional supplement can also decrease carbohydrate and sugar cravings.
- Exercise is an important component to help insulin levels stay normal, maintain hormonal balance, and regulate metabolic function. It also helps decrease stress and lessens the strain on often overworked adrenal glands, which contributes to better health overall.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, get plenty of sleep, and stop smoking.