Eat your heart out, Sophia

Oct. 1, 2003
Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti, Sophia Loren once explained. Perhaps Sophia could get away with consuming a lifetimes worth of spaghetti and turn into a knock-out, but some of us cannot brag that pasta has enhanced our figures or physiques. Statistics show that 33% of adults in the United States suffer from obesity (approaching epidemic status and causing 300,000 deaths a year). It is now known to be associated with metabolic syndrome, the disease process thought to be exacerbated by poor nutritional habits and a lack of physical activity. In the words of Thomas Moffett, We are digging our graves with our teeth. And so are our children.Combine obesity with at least three of five characteristics of metabolic syndrome high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and/or a disproportionately large waist/abdomen and you put yourself at risk for endothelial dysfunction, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, prothrombotic and pro-inflammatory states, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.About 22% of American adults (thats 47 million people) are affected by the syndrome (also known as syndrome X and the insulin-resistance syndrome). A recent study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics Center for Child Health Research claims that close to 4% of adolescents ages 12 to 19 (thats 1 million kids) in this country exhibit some blend of those five metabolic syndrome characteristics. The study found that 30% of all overweight adolescents also meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome.In April, 2000, I learned about metabolic syndrome and hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol. Within hours, my physical condition degenerated from feeling better than I had ever felt to being admitted to the emergency room where the attending physician said I was dying. My liver had stopped functioning, and I suffered from
Sure, outwardly, it was obvious my weight had increased over a couple of years. Everything you saw on me, I, too, owed to spaghetti. What you could not see was that my triglyceride level had surged to 2,875 (300 is considered high). The stunned hospital laboratorian delivered that news to me herself.Fourteen days later, I had survived the worst and was released. My doctors orders demanded a low-fat diet and daily doses of Zocor, followed months later by the metabolic diet and Lipitor, followed months later by yet another diet and Tricor. After two years of medication and diets, my cholesterol and triglyceride levels were much lower but not yet within a safe range; and my weight was a steady 190, far above my normal 145.Without my doctors knowledge last summer, I embarked upon a high-protein, low-carb diet for six months. I also dispensed with the medication. I do not recommend this course of action to anyone. In the end fortunately, for me my doctor was pleased with my weight reduction and the perfect levels of my cholesterol and triglycerides. My medication was officially discontinued, and my scale reads 145 every morning. Staying healthy requires my constant attention, continuous learning and consistent exercise.Everything you see on me now, I owe to some fast-thinking physicians, a multitude of creative nutritionists and three pharmaceutical giants. And from the looks of the statistics, theres plenty more work for them where I came from.Carren Bersch
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